De Jongh went into last week’s 17-17 draw against the Sunwolves in Singapore with a slight niggle, but managed to get through the game without any issues.
But coach Robbie Fleck said after practice in Bellville on Tuesday that De Jongh won’t be risked for a second consecutive week as he has a grade 1 hamstring strain.
It means that De Jongh won’t have an opportunity to stake a claim for a Springbok berth alongside Damian de Allende against the Bulls centre pair of Jan Serfontein and Jesse Kriel.
“It is a big blow, and will be out for this weekend. He was struggling with that before the game against the Sunwolves, and he couldn’t run to his full potential against them,” Fleck said.
“He was struggling during the week, but we didn’t think much of it. But during the game, there was a little bit of a tweak there, but he didn’t really feel it. It’s a very small grade 1 strain, and it’s something you can play with, but we need to be 100 percent going up to Loftus.
“It would’ve been a nice match-up between the Bulls centres and our centres, but it’s not to be.”
Johnny Kotze partnered De Jongh in midfield earlier this season in the absence of De Allende, but with the big No 12 back in tow, it doesn’t mean Kotze will be an automatic choice at outside centre.
Huw Jones has impressed in the limited time he’s had on the field in midfield this season, and is an excellent strike-runner who would keep Serfontein and Kriel busy on defence. The Edinburgh-born Jones has the classic ability to take the outside gap, and with Kriel’s defence not the strongest around at No 13, it is a weakness that the Stormers could exploit on Saturday.
Kotze started at right wing against the Sunwolves due to Leolin Zas being suspended, but now that the left wing is back, Kotze may miss out on the starting line-up if Zas returns at No 11.
Meanwhile, prop JC Janse van Rensburg has been officially ruled out for 12 weeks with a knee ligament injury he picked up against the Sunwolves, which is likely to keep out for the rest of the Super Rugby season.
Oli Kebble made a strong impact when he came on with a number of ball-carries around the fringes, and will wear the No 1 jersey at Loftus, with Alistair Vermaak coming on to the bench.
Frans Malherbe will take over the captaincy on his own, while two other likely changes will see Nic Groom back at scrumhalf for Louis Schreuder, and Eben Etzebeth at No 4 in place of JD Schickerling.
Fleck reiterated on Tuesday that he was looking to settle on a first-choice team for the rest of the competition, with the loose-trio combination one of the big talking points in terms of selection.
Youngster Sikhumbuzo Notshe may miss out on the starting XV on Saturday, with the experienced Springbok loose forwards Nizaam Carr, Siya Kolisi and Schalk Burger running out at Loftus.
Fleck will name his team on Thursday.
@IndyCapeSport - Independent Media
Original source: De Jongh out of Bulls game