Bulls suffer a big blow

Meshack Khotha

Meshack Khotha

Defending champions Bulls were dealt a major blow when inside centre Wayne Julies was ruled out for the 2008 Super 14 season that kicks off on February 15.

This after team doctor Tommie Smook said Julies had to undergo a knee operation last December and would not be able to play for at least six months.

The Bulls' opening game will be against the Stormers on February 16 in Cape Town.

A worried Bulls' coach Frans Ludeke said: "Julies will possibly be out of action because the competition runs until May 31. That is not an ideal situation.

"His absence could also minimise our chances of defending the title.''

Other Bulls' players who will miss a few games in the first round of the competition because of injuries include Qurtho Steenkamp (forearm) and BakkiesBotha (ankle). Both will probably start playing in March.

Meanwhile, in a move to strengthen the team's technical staff, the Bulls have appointed former All Blacks technical advisor, Nico le Roux, as their backline coach.