Kirchner back for Bulls, Brussow blow for Cheetahs


Associated Press

Posted on March 28, 2011 at 1:06 PM

JOHANNESBURG (AP) — South Africa fullback Zane Kirchner was selected in the Bulls squad for the four-match Super 15 tour of New Zealand and Australia Monday after recovering from a shoulder injury.

Kirchner is in the defending champions' 26-man traveling group for games against the Wellington Hurricanes, Canterbury Crusaders, Queensland Reds and Western Force. The squad will depart South Africa on Tuesday.

Springboks flanker Heinrich Brussow is heading in the other direction, however, after the Cheetahs confirmed he would return home with a rib injury from Saturday's 41-8 defeat to the Reds in Brisbane.

The Cheetahs say Brussow will miss at least three weeks. The dynamic loose forward had only just returned to action after a year on the sidelines with a knee problem.

Kirchner is a boost for the Bulls after an unsteady start to their title defense, where they lost their first two home games.

The Pretoria team also has to do without prop Gurthro Steenkamp, South Africa's 2010 player of the year, who was ruled out for six weeks after fracturing his arm in the loss to the Stormers on March 19.

Kirchner joins a strong squad, despite the absence of Steenkamp, having missed Saturday's 30-23 win over the Lions — the Bulls' first win in three matches.

Brussow joins a lengthy injury list for Bloemfontein's Cheetahs, who are also without flanker Juan Smith (Achilles), hooker Adriaan Strauss (hand), center Andries Strauss (groin), fullback Hennie Daniller (calf) and winger Rayno Benjamin (hamstring) for their four-match Australasian trip. The Cheetahs face New Zealand's Auckland Blues next.

Overall Super 15 leaders the Stormers have also been hit by injury, with fears flanker Pieter Louw will miss the rest of the competition.

Stormers coach Allister Coetzee told a South African radio station on Monday that Louw would need surgery on his knee and could be out for the entire Super 15.

Louw was injured in Saturday's 51-16 home victory over the Western Force in Cape Town, which kept the Stormers' record as the only unbeaten team in the competition.

However, flanker and captain Schalk Burger and lock Rynhardt Elstadt are set to return for Saturday's meeting with the fourth-place Sharks of Durban.