Bulls get a number of players back in training

Jamba Ulengo and Lizo Gqoboka (left) are two of many previously-injured Bulls players who John Mitchell will welcome back to training ahead of the 2018 Super Rugby season. Christiaan Kotze/BackpagePix

South Africa's Bulls have a number of players back in pre-season training after injury lay-offs and could yet have a full-strength squad for the start of the revamped 2018 Super Rugby season.

Loose-forward Ruan Steenkamp (knee) and scrumhalf Ivan van Zyl (shoulder) are the most serious doubts at this stage and are only expected back in the middle of February, with the Bulls to open their campaign at home to the Hurricanes on February 24. Steenkamp was named captain of the Currie Cup side last season and also had a torn pectoral muscle.

Lock Hendré Stassen, hooker Corniel Els and loose-forward Jannes Kirsten are all expected back by the end of this month, while prop Gerhard Steenekamp and centre JT Jackson are described as being "weeks" away from training by Bulls team doctor Herman Rossouw.

Already back in training are hooker Jaco Visagie, centre Dries Swanepoel, wing Jamba Ulengo and prop Lizo Gqoboka, who started this week. They are likely to be joined shortly by flank Shaun Adendorff.

The Bulls will be coached in Super Rugby this year by New Zealander John Mitchell after finishing with the poorest record of South Africa's six competing sides in 2017.