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Rugby | Vodacom Super Rugby

Willemse out for three months



Vodacom Bulls lock Paul Willemse will be out of action for three months following a knee injury sustained in Saturday's win over the Southern Kings.

A MRI scan on Monday revealed an MCL injury to the big lock, ruling him out of action for the next three months.

Willemse, a member of last year’s Baby Boks team, will undergo an operation on Wednesday to repair the damage.

The lineout has been one of the key attacking platforms for the Bulls this season, and with Flip van der Merwe suffering a recurrence of the chest injury that he sustained on tour, they may well be a bit thin on the back-up.

Van der Merwe will need to undergo a fitness test on Tuesday but is expected to be fit to play, but depending on Willemse’s status, the Bulls may need to call up Wilhelm Steenkamp to the 22-man squad.

They are a bit thin at lock as Grant Hattingh still has three weeks out with a busted thumb and Cornell Hess is out with ligament damage for six to eight months.

If Van der Merwe doesn’t come through on Tuesday, the Bulls may well shift Jacques Potgieter to lock for the match, but that would be a worst-case scenario for the team.

There was also a sigh of relief that most of the injury concerns from the Kings game didn’t look too serious on Monday morning.

While Frik Kirsten (elbow), Deon Stegmann (hip), Callie Visagie (ankle), Chiliboy Ralepelle (calf) and Lionel Mapoe (foot) all sat out the day’s practice session, they will all be ready for selection when the team is announced on Wednesday.

The team also received good news that midfielder Wynand Olivier has recovered from his knee injury and is fit for selection, while Dewald Potgieter has also cleared a fitness test after having to withdraw from the team last week.

Francois Hougaard’s ankle is also recovered, and it is hoped that this week will be the week that he finally makes a return after six frustrating weeks on the sideline.

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