SA latest – Kirchner doubtful for opener brings you news from South Africa’s Super Rugby franchises.

Kirchner doubtful for opener – Zane Kirchner injured his ribs in the Bulls’ win over the Premier XV and could miss the first Super Rugby game against the Lions.

The Bulls fullback will go for more X-rays on Monday, but the Bulls medical staff aren’t optimistic. It’s feared that Kirchner may be out for as many as three weeks.

Springbok lock Bakkies Botha twisted his knee, but should make a full recovery in the next few days. The other good news is that Francois Hougaard is recovering well, and that Bulls captain Victor Matfield (neck injury) should be ready for the Super Rugby opener.

Stormers continue to wait on Bash – Peter Grant’s club has progressed to the next stage of the All-Japan Championship and so the Stormers flyhalf will not be returning for at least another week.

Grant’s club, the Kobelco Steelers, beat Toyota Verblitz 27-17 on Sunday with Grant scoring 13 points (two conversions, two penalties and a drop goal). The Steelers will now play the NTT Docomo Red Hurricanes this weekend, and if they win, Grant will stay in Japan for the 19 February semi-finals.

If the Steelers go all the way to the final (29 February), Grant will miss the Stormers’ game against the Lions, and possibly the next match against the Cheetahs. It’s a problem for coach Allister Coetzee, as rookie Gary van Aswegen has had an up-and-down pre-season, while Lionel Cronje and Elgar Watts are yet to get a decent run at flyhalf.