Pretoria – Bulls coach John Mitchell says his side cannot dwell on injuries to key players ahead of their trip to Argentina.
The Bulls face the high-flying Jaguares in a crucial South African Conference clash in Buenos Aires on Saturday night as the race for Super Rugby playoff places gains momentum.
They go into the match, though, without the injured trio of Lood de Jager, Lizo Gqoboka and Burger Odendaal.
De Jager and Gqoboka are out for the year, while skipper Odendaal is sidelined this weekend with a rib injury.
It has forced Mitchell into a number of key changes for the Jaguares, including shifting Handre Pollard to No 12 while Manie Libbok comes in at flyhalf.
The former All Black coach is making no excuses, though.
“You never want to see a team-mate suffer, but unfortunately it’s part of the trade,” he told media in Pretoria.
“Ultimately you’re tested in this competition by your depth, so you can’t just rely on top players being available all the time.
“You’ve got to get on and now it’s somebody else’s chance to contribute to the team.
“At the end of the day it will come down to how everybody has contributed in some way, and now there are new players who will be given that opportunity.”
Mitchell acknowledged that De Jager and Gqoboka, in particular, had been in good form before picking up their respective injuries.
“They were in good form, but that’s history,” said Mitchell.
“It’s gone and that’s reality. You can’t focus on them not being here.”
Kick-off on Saturday is at 23:40 (SA time).
15 Warrick Gelant, 14 Travis Ismiael, 13 Jesse Kriel, 12 Handre Pollard (captain), 11 Johnny Kotze, 10 Manie Libbok, 9 Ivan van Zyl, 8 Marco van Staden, 7 Thembelani Bholi, 6 Roelof Smit, 5 RG Snyman, 4 Jason Jenkins, 3 Conraad van Vuuren, 2 Adriaan Strauss, 1 Trevor Nyakane
Substitutes: 16 Jaco Visagie, 17 Nqobisiwe Mxoli, 18 Frans van Wyk, 19 Hendre Stassen, 20 Nic de Jager, 21 Andre Warner, 22 JT Jackson, 23 Divan Rossouw