Both the Bulls and the Springboks look to be deprived of the services of in-form lock Lood de Jager for the rest of the year as the 2015 SA Rugby Player of the Year suffered a pectoral muscle injury in his franchise’s thrilling Super Rugby win over the Sharks at Loftus Versfeld at the weekend.
Losing De Jager is obviously a major blow for the Bulls given the outstanding form he has been in this season, but it will also affect the plans of Springbok coach Rassie Erasmus.
The absence of both De Jager and Eben Etzebeth, who is yet to play a game of rugby this year, will leave the Springboks short of valuable experience in the second row.
“Lood de Jager has a pectoral problem and that’s a concern, he’ll have to have x-rays. It would be a setback to lose him because he’s in extremely good form and looks like a consistent Test player,” Bulls coach John Mitchell said after the Sharks match.
While an official prognosis will only be made on Monday, the fear of the Bulls camp is that the tear is bad enough to rule De Jager out of all rugby for six months.
A complete tear is not something that can be fixed with a cortisone injection; unfortunately it requires surgery and then months of rehab because the muscle suffers wasting when it is not being used.
The injury put a dampener on what was an intense, high-octane match between the Bulls and the Sharks, won 39-33 by the home side, with Mitchell delighted with the high-tempo play, both in attack and defence, his team managed to produce.
“The intent that was shown right from the start today was awesome and we got early reward for it, we were able to stamp ourselves on the match. We gave away a couple of soft tries and we left a few points out there, but I was very pleased with the attitude of the players.
“We scrambled well and we saved some situations very well. The Sharks are a momentum team and if you stop that then their options become less. They’ve got pace, but quite a singular alignment which makes it easier to defend against. There was some great team play in the way we attacked the gain-line. We were very good on the edges and I enjoyed the urgency of the guys to get into shape,” Mitchell said.