The 37-year-old Matfield is expected to be out for approximately a month meaning that he will miss the remainder of the Bulls’ home matches prior to their tour to New Zealand and Australia.
Matfield’s absence from Super Rugby could be longer if the Bulls are to wrap their aging former captain in cotton wool as per wishes of the Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer.
According to Bulls team doctor, Org Strauss, Matfield could have continued to play for the remainder of the Super Rugby season but precaution was taken to have the procedure done now rather than later as Matfield is a key member of Meyer’s World Cup plans.
“The idea is to get it done now to avoid problems going forward – especially with the World Cup getting closer,” Strauss said.
While the World Cup is still months away, the immediate concern will be Bulls coach Frans Ludeke finding another lock to cover at five with Blue Bulls Vodacom Cup captain Marvin Orie being the front-runner to finally get his chance to play Super Rugby.
For the time being the Bulls will feel that they have enough cover after the return of Springbok lock Flip van der Merwe from injury this week while Grant Hattingh has proved to be a worthy replacement for Matfield.
Ludeke is optimistic that Matfield will be back before they board the flight abroad and feels that that Van der Merwe’s return will help plug the gap.
“It’s part of the game. If they do have to sort it out, it won’t be a long-term thing. It’s a little bit of cartilage damage. If they sort it out, then in about three to four weeks Victor should be back,” Ludeke said yesterday.
“The timing of Flip’s comeback is a really crucial one for us. A senior player with lots of experience, the ability to run the line-outs and to make good decisions – he will help the side going forward. It’s great to have him back. He had a really good build-up in his rehab phase to be able to get back for this game.”
With Matfield’s injury seemingly being the only disruption for the week, Ludeke says his team is determined to bounce back in their upcoming encounter against the Reds at Loftus Versfeld on Saturday after their last minute loss to the Lions. “It took a while, but we’ve put it all behind us. To lose in the last minute like that is never nice, but we should have managed it better. We’ve looked at things we can do better. It was a huge arm-wrestle,” added Ludeke. - The Star
Original source: Matfield out for a month