But Botha was yesterday ruled out for at least six months after picking up a knee ligament injury against the Stormers in last Saturday’s season-opening friendly in Polokwane, team doctor Org Strauss confirmed.
“Arno was (destined to be) pivotal for our Super Rugby campaign,” a disappointed Ludeke said yesterday.
“Before this injury, he was very influential in his time on the field against the Stormers and it was great to see him return to his best form after his previous injury.” Ludeke said.
Botha was taken for scans in Pretoria, which confirmed the diagnosis of an injury to his anterior cruciate ligaments. It will require surgical correction, to be done in Pretoria next Tuesday.
The injury, which will see Botha miss most of the 2014 Vodacom Super Rugby season, came in his first match back after injuring the same knee in June last year, which ruled him out of the rest of last season.
“We wish Arno all the best for the surgery as well as the road to recovery ahead and together with our medical and rehabilitation team, we will work together to ensure Arno’s return to the field later this year.”
In another setback, Jesse Kriel, who scored a try for the Blue Bulls in their match against the Golden Lions, was ruled out for a month with a calf injury.
Flank Deon Stegmann will miss a week of training following an abductor strain while prop Mornè Mellett is still struggling with a neck/back injury.
Francois Hougaard, Jurgen Visser and Dean Greyling missed training yesterday but will return to training today.