The Bulls insist there are not fitness concerns associated with the imminent recruitment of Springbok hooker Schalk Brits.
Despite retiring from franchise rugby earlier this year, the 37-year-old has been a permanent fixture in the national squad as coach Rassie Erasmus harnesses his experience.
However, Brits hasn’t played much competitive rugby for the best part of six months and probably won’t do so until next year’s Super Rugby campaign.
Not that the men from Loftus are worried.
“Schalk has always been considered an explosive and athletic player. It’s one of the factors for his longevity,” Bulls team doctor Herman Rossouw said on Thursday.
“He’s also been lucky that he hasn’t really been struck down by a major injury in his career. We’re also quite confident that our fitness regime will suit his needs. It’s very much an integrated effort and builds towards a player’s requirements for the different parts of the season.
“What we also need to remember that Schalk adds depth to the position, which means you can automatically manage and rotate players more effectively.”
That’s very much the same line adopted by high performance manager, Xander Janse van Rensburg, who also noted that the acquisition of men like Brits, Bok No 8 Duane Vermeulen and the revitalised Cornal Hendricks fits in with the model proposed by former director of rugby John Mitchell.
“It looks very positive that he’ll join us,” said Janse van Rensburg.
“The whole process started with John, who identified certain key positions that needed experienced candidates. You want that backbone, to create a platform for younger players to succeed too.”
Janse van Rensburg also mentioned that “negotiations started a while ago” though it’s now common knowledge that Brits was on his way back to the Stormers before budgetary miscommunication saw them embarrassingly asking SA Rugby and Brits to consider Loftus instead.