Pollard, Kriel unleashed on Chiefs
INJURY UPDATE: Springboks Handré Pollard and Jesse Kriel will both make their comebacks from injury in the Bulls' opening match of 2017.
The Bulls will face the two-time Super Rugby champion Chiefs in a pre-season match in Ballymore, Brisbane, on February 8. Three days later both teams will feature in Brisbane 10s.
However, it is at Ballymore where the prodigiously talented Pollard will make his long-awaited return after a year on the sidelines.
Pollard, who ruptured his knee ligaments in training in February last year, opted to also undergo corrective shoulder surgery.
However, at one stage thought he might never play again - after a serious infection in his shoulder, following the surgery, resulted in a suggestion that he might have to have his arm amputated.
The doctors, however, responded rapidly and Pollard is already back on the training field.
Kriel injured his lower leg in the opening match of the Springboks year-end tour - a 31-all draw with the Barbarians at Wembley.
Bulls coach Nollis Marais said a number of players who have been sidelined for a long time are being "eased back" in training.
"Handré [Pollard] and Jesse [Kriel, lower leg] are looking good," Marais told rugby365.
"They are training already and they will feature in the warm-up game against the Chiefs [in Brisbane in February]."
The only players who are not available for the opening match of the season, against the Stormers in Cape Town on February 25, are Adriaan Strauss (back surgery- Arno Botha (shoulder surgery) and Jannes Kirsten (shoulder surgery).
The Bulls have made significant acquisitions for the 2017 season - Bok lock Lodewyk de Jager (from the Cheetahs), prop Jacobie Adriaanse (from Kings), prop Conraad van Vuuren (from Free State Cheetahs), hooker Edgar Marutlulle (from Kings), loose forward Shaun Adendorff (from Boland Cavaliers), utility back Johnny Kôtze (from Stormers) and wing Sibahle Maxwane (from Western Province).
A substantial number of senior players have left the franchise - either moving abroad or being released domestically.
Those who won't feature this year include props Dean Greyling (to Oyonnax), Werner Kruger (to Scarlets) and Marcel van der Merwe (to Toulon), hookers Bandise Maku (retired) and Callie Visagie (released), locks Grant Hattingh (to Kubota Spears), Irné Herbst (to Kings), Nico Janse van Rensburg (to Montpellier) and Marvin Orie (to Lions), loose forwards Pieter Labuschagné (to Kubota Spears) and Deon Stegmann (to Honda Heat), utility back Dan Kriel (to Stormers), backs Bjorn Basson (released) and SP Marais (released).
By Jan de Koning