The Bulls have been dealt a major blow with news that lock Flip van der Merwe will be out of action until April with a pectoral injury.
The Springbok second row had only just recovered from a knee operation and picked up the injury in pre-season training.
As a result he will miss the first two months of the Super Rugby season, leaving the Bulls short of second row options.
Paul Willemse left for Grenoble at the end of last season, while the side were hoping to manage Victor Matfield’s minutes during a big year for the veteran lock.
Instead Matfield will likely have to play a lot in the early part of the season.
There is good news elsewhere for the Bulls though, with Pierre Spies and Arno Botha ready to return to action having missed much of last season through injury.