South African Super Rugby franchise the Bulls has a potential crisis on their hands as a number of high profile Springboks head for the exit following the Rugby World Cup.

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Springbok centre Jesse Kriel, who is to undergo ankle surgery and miss the next eight weeks, has reportedly informed the Bulls of his intention to take up a contract in the Japanese Top League with the Canon Eagles under former coach Alister Coetzee after the Rugby World Cup according to Rapport.

The loss of Kriel would be a major blow for the Bulls, with the 25-year-old midfielder just hitting his peak. The uncertainty surrounding the playing roster is playing a part in the departures according to lock Lood de Jager, who just announced his signing with the Sale Sharks a week ago.

“Look, it’s tough in South Africa at present,” he told Rapport.

“At the Bulls, no one knows who’s leaving and who’s staying.

“The way things are currently going in the overseas market, there are a number of guys who don’t know if they’ll still be at Loftus next year – guys like Jesse (Kriel), Handre (Pollard), Duane (Vermeulen), Schalk (Brits) and RG (Snyman).”

“It’s tough to sign a deal at the Bulls while there is uncertainty about a number of the team’s top players.”

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Handre Pollard was rumoured to be a target as a replacement for former All Black Aaron Cruden at French giants Montpellier, should they release Cruden over the summer. It was reported that Pollard had been offered a deal worth around €1.2m per year, however, the Bulls made a statement saying they were ‘aware’ of interest in the flyhalf but believed no formal offer had been made.

With the news of Kriel’s impending departure, Bulls CEO Alfons Meyer has admitted the club has a potential ‘crisis’ and ‘a big loss’ but refused to elaborate further.

“We have a potential crisis on our hands. It’ll be a big loss, but we can’t say much about it at the moment,” Bulls CEO Alfons Meyer said.

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