Willemse answers Bulls SOS
Willemse answers Bulls SOSSHARE
South African Under-20 lock Paul Willemse is heading to Brisbane to join the Bulls ahead of their Super Rugby crunch match with the Reds.
The SOS to the burly 20-year-old Willemse comes in the wake of the news that lock Flip van der Merwe has joined the growing injury list of the Bulls in Australasia.
Van der Merwe, who took a blow to the chest in the 19-41 loss to the Crusaders at the weekend, is the fourth Bok in the Bulls camp to join the casualty list.
Wynand Olivier, Francois Hougaard and Akona Ndungane will all be returning home, following injuries in the Bulls' defeat at the hands of the Crusaders.
There is still some hope that Van der Merwe may recover in time to face the Reds.
According to the Bulls' website the initial diagnosis suggested the Bok could be sidelined for between five and 10 days.
However, the Bulls are holding out hope that Van der Merwe could make a speedy recovery.
According to Bulls coach Frans Ludeke the decision to fly Willemse out is a precaution, as a final call on Van der Merwe will only be made on Wednesday.
Grant Hattingh, the other lock on tour, is also doubtful as a result of slight concussion – the result of foul play by Crusaders replacement hooker Ben Funnell.
The Crusaders player has been suspended for one week as a result of the dangerous tackle on the Bulls player.
If both Van der Merwe and Hattingh are ruled out, loose forward Jacques Potgieter could be moved to the second row or Willemse could start at lock alongside Juandré Kruger.
* Meanwhile it was confirmed that Olivier (knee, out for four weeks), Hougaard (ankle, two weeks) and Ndungane (cheekbone, four weeks) will be replaced on tour by Francois Venter, Ruan Snyman and fit-again Bjorn Basson.
Hougaard said he was "really disappointed" to return home early.
"Did a MRI & found some bone bruising! Not ideal but that's life!" he said on his Twitter page.
Lionel Mapoe and Dewald Potgieter will also be fit for selection this week
Apart from the touring squad, the recovery of Dean Greyling and Marcel van der Merwe is on track.
Van der Merwe will be ready to return to the playing field in May and Greyling could be back in three weeks.