Chris Smith. (Photo by Ben Evans/Gallo Images)
- Bulls skipper Marcell Coetzee admits that their collective heart bleeds for the unfortunate Johan Goosen after the pivot sustained a serious knee injury.
- But from a high performance perspective, they’re not sulking as Chris Smith proved that depth in the position is abundant.
- The return of Morne Steyn is merely an extra boost.
Bulls skipper Marcell Coetzee and his team-mates’ collective heart “bleeds” for Johan Goosen, but that doesn’t mean they’re going to mope over the loss of their star play-maker.
The 29-year-old, 13-cap Springbok – touted by many as an outsider to return to the national setup for the year-end tour to Europe after an outstanding start to his career at Loftus – is returning to South Africa after sustaining a serious knee injury against Cardiff Blues last weekend.
However, the Bulls shrugged off that blow by recording a 29-19 victory, their first in the United Rugby Championship and did so with Goosen’s replacement, Chris Smith, excelling.
“Look, Goosie is a character off the field and he’s a leader on it. It was a blow for us,” Coetzee said on Tuesday, ahead of the Bulls’ final game on tour, a trip to Edinburgh on Friday night.
“We’re bleeding for him. He’s already like a brother to us and we’re all with him. There’s no clarity yet on how serious the injury is, he’ll only find out back in South Africa.
“We’re just hoping he gets the care he deserves.”
From a high performance perspective, Goosen’s misfortune only serves to illustrate how well Jake White, director of rugby, has assembled a squad brimming with depth.
No team can complain too much when a player of Goosen’s calibre is replaced by a certain Morne Steyn, who is already en route to Wales.
“What a guy to have coming over. We all know Morne’s an absolute legend,” said Coetzee.
“He’ll bring that extra energy and enthusiasm going into this final game. That’s just the type of experience you can’t buy.”
Steyn’s pedigree though won’t automatically translate into him slotting straight back into the Bulls’ starting line-up.
First and foremost, the evergreen 37-year-old pivot hasn’t played competitively since August 14 in the Rugby Championship opener against Argentina.
More pertinently, Smith surely can’t be kept from the No 10 jersey after his composed showing in a pressurised environment last week.
“Last week only showed the character and resilience of Chris, coming on and just filling the boots of Johan,” said Coetzee.
“I personally thought he had a brilliant game and really played a vital role in us turning the tide. It just illustrates the depth we have at our disposal.”
The Bulls announce their team on Thursday.