Former Springboks Ruan Pienaar and Gio Aplon are set to miss the remainder of the Super Rugby Unlocked series in South Africa following worrying knee injuries in the Friday night match that the Cheetahs won 19-17 against the Bulls in Bloemfontein.

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Veteran scrum-half Pienaar, who returned to the Cheetahs last year after a long stint in Europe with Montpellier and Ulster, was left in anguish on the ground at the Free State Stadium just 15 minutes into the round two game.

The Cheetahs skipper was ready to play the ball at a ruck when he was illegally clobbered by Bulls flanker Marco van Staden, an incident that resulted in just a penalty award. It put Pienaar out of the match and the 36-year-old was pictured later on crutches with his right leg heavily bandaged.    

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How the Cheetahs felt approaching their round two match in Bloemfontein

Aplon, the 38-year-old who returned to South Africa earlier this year from the Japanese Top League, had left the fray ten minutes before Pienaar’s departure after he embarked on a run that left him nursing left knee ligament damage. 

“Injuries are unfortunately part of the game,” said Hawies Fourie, whose Cheetahs are now two wins from two in Super Rugby Unlocked after last month getting kicked out of the PRO14. “It was really bad to see that he [Pienaar] and Gio Aplon had to be taken off on the medical golf cart. We are thinking about them and hope that their injuries aren’t too serious. It’s a big setback.”

There was no confirmation as to how badly Pienaar might be injured, although the speculation was he had torn his MCL, but Bulls boss Jake White definitely wasn’t too optimistic about the status of Aplon. “It’s all speculation (at this stage), but he himself thinks he’s done his ACL. He’s never done it before, so he says he isn’t quite sure. 

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“I don’t want to pre-empt anything, but he feels that it is his ACL. He was basically running and as he stepped, the outside of his knee went. Hopefully, it’s not, but if it is, I just hope he gets better,” said White to media post-match.

 

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