Massive blow to Bulls

Vodacom Blue Bulls utility-back Frikkie Welsh will not play in the Absa Currie Cup semi-final.

Welsh failed a fitness test to assess the condition of an injured thigh muscle today and will play no part in Saturday’s encounter against Vodacom Western Province.

“The healing process has happened 100% but the muscle is still not where we want it to be,” he told keo.co.za. “Playing now could mean risking a serious long-term injury, so I think we’ve taken the intelligent option.”

He lamented that the five game layoff has come at the most inopportune time and had been extremely difficult to come to terms with.

“I want to be a part of the team, that’s why watching from the sidelines has been so frustrating,” he said. “With everything that’s happening around the Bulls camp at the moment it’s exciting but not be part of preparation for the big games is terrible.”

Welsh said he was optimistic about his chances of playing should the Bulls reach the final but chose to remain focussed on the impending visit of WP.

“I must say the backline have really impressed me recently,” he gushed. “They were heavily criticised for their defensive slips in the Cheetahs game but that won’t be an issue again this weekend.

“We’ve always prided ourselves on our defence and a few defensive errors doesn’t suddenly make you a bad defensive side.”

The argument has always been that the Bulls would be world class outfit when their backline complement their much vaunted pack, and consistently perform to their potential.

Recently they have shown glimpses of of a side reaching that pinnacle in their game, scoring 31 tries in their last four matches, against the Pumas, Sharks, Griquas and Cheetahs.

“The Bulls forwards have always provided a great platform for the backs to attack from and now we’re punishing sides more often,” he said. “That’s what has brought the Crusaders their success in the last decade and hopefully we can imitate them.”

But for all their Bulls expansiveness recently, the pressure of playing in a semi-final could see them revert to type, and approach the game with a conservative, forward-orientated approach.

Welsh was non-committal about the Bulls strategy but hinted that they felt comfortable with their new-found attacking persona.

“This is a semi-final and a win will do. You don’t need bonus points,” he said. “That though doesn’t mean we’ll change the approach that has brought us this far. That would be foolish.”

By Ryan Vrede