Scrumhalf Rudy Paige has been omitted from the Bulls’ 38-man squad for the upcoming Super Rugby campaign.
Paige underwent groin surgery and is expected to be fit by the end of February, but on Monday his name was absent when the Bulls’ final squad was announced.
Coach John Mitchell confirmed to SARugbymag.co.za that Paige had been dropped.
‘It was a hard decision to make, but we want to move forward as a union,’ Mitchell said. ‘Rudy is staying with us and will have an opportunity to get back into the squad if there is an injury to one of our scrumhalves during the season.’
Ivan van Zyl, André Warner and Embrose Papier are the three scrumhalves in the squad, which is made up of 21 forwards and 17 backs.
Five players – outside back Divan Rossouw, centre JT Jackson, flyhalf Manie Libbok, lock Aston Fortuin and Papier – will play in their debut Super Rugby campaign; while 11 squad members are Springboks.
Loose forward Jacques Potgieter was not included in the squad as he opted to take a sabbatical to spend time with his wife, son and soon to be born twins. An announcement on his long-term future at the union will be made later in the year.
Mitchell has also decided to go the dual-captaincy route and appointed centre Burger Odendaal and loose forward Nic de Jager as the team’s co-captains.
‘We have made tremendous progress with our processes over the past couple of months and we will be ready for whatever comes our way during Super Rugby 2018,’ he said.
‘I don’t want to make any promises on how the team will perform this year, we will be solely focussed on the process. It’s about marginal gains for us, stacking good stuff on good stuff daily as we continue to ensure excellence. It’s not about the end but rather the daily effort combined at the end. Our purpose is to fill Loftus and put smiles on people’s faces. We will be working very hard to achieve that.
‘I am confident that we have worked smartly and laid a solid foundation. This squad will develop and improve and one needs to be realistic about it, but we are all in agreement about the way forward. We will be connected, we want to be respected and not just liked. Therefore one of our main focus areas during this process will be to remain honest and never forget to enjoy it and have fun.’
Bulls squad – Warrick Gelant, Duncan Matthews, Travis Ismaiel, Jamba Ulengo, Jade Stighling, Divan Rossouw, Burger Odendaal, JT Jackson, Francois Brummer, Jesse Kriel, Johnny Kotzé, Handré Pollard, Marnitz Boshoff, Manie Libbok, Ivan van Zyl, André Warner, Embrose Papier, Roelof Smit, Ruan Steenkamp, Hendre Stassen, Hanro Liebenberg, Jannes Kirsten, Nic de Jager, Tim Agaba, Jason Jenkins, Ruben van Heerden, RG Snyman, Lood de Jager, Aston Fortuin, Pierre Schoeman, Conraad van Vuuren, Frans van Wyk, Matthys Basson, Lizo Gqoboka, Trevor Nyakane, Jaco Visagie, Adriaan Strauss, Edgar Marutlulle.
Photo: Gerhard Duraan/BackpagePix