Blindside flank is the one position where Bulls coach John Mitchell is not satisfied with their pre-season preparation and he could well go outside the Super Rugby squad he named a month ago for the wearer of the No 7 jersey when he announces his team for their opening match against the Hurricanes in Pretoria on Saturday.
It is the position where the Bulls mentor had hoped to give regular lock Jason Jenkins a go, with the promising 22-yearold struggling to get a place in the starting line-up ahead of Lood de Jager and RG Snyman in the second row, but the Japanese returnee has an AC joint problem that has ruled him out of action this week.
With Jannes Kirsten also only returning to full training next week, it means Thembelani Bholi, the Eastern Cape product who first made his name for the Southern Kings, could come from nowhere, straight into the starting line-up.
Being exposed to the brilliance of New Zealand rugby this early in the season could have the same effects as radiation sickness for some teams, but Mitchell is happy that his team will start their campaign against the 2016 champions.
“I actually think it is cool starting off against a New Zealand side. It creates greater attention to detail because they have so many more attacking threats and they can expose you at any point in time without the ball. If you don’t look after the ball well, they can hurt you,” Mitchell said.