Springboks' Handre Pollard returns from injury one week early to answer Bulls injury crisis

Bulls star Handre Pollard has been recalled to action in New Zealand, after missing two weeks with a calf tear, with the team amid fresh injury woes. Sydney Seshibedi/Gallo Images/Getty Images

Springboks fly-half Handre Pollard has rejoined the Bulls in New Zealand ahead of their Super Rugby Round 17 fixture against the Highlanders in Dunedin on Friday.

The game is the last of a four-match tour through Australia and New Zealand.

Pollard went home following the first -- a much-needed win over Melbourne Reds -- after suffering a calf injury in training.

He missed the subsequent defeat by the Brumbies in Canberra and last Friday's draw with the Blues, which revived the Bulls' hope of a playoff place.

Bulls coach Pote Human called Pollard the best stand-off in world rugby, and said he would be counting on the player's return to give the side a lift amid injury woes.

The Bulls will face the Highlanders without Duane Vermuelen, who returned to South Africa after the first two matches of the trip, in accordance with an agreement with SA Rugby to rest Springboks players ahead of the Rugby World Cup in Japan.

Rosko Specman and Paul Schoeman have been ruled out, with injury, and there is also concern about Warrick Gelant's availability for the match.

Specman tore a hamstring and Schoeman sustained a knee injury in the 22-22 draw with the Blues in Auckland last weekend.

Both players have returned to South Africa.

Fullback Gelant has a hamstring strain, and his availability will not be confirmed until later in the week.

The Bulls are third in Super Rugby's South African Conference, seven points off leaders the Jaguares, with two rounds of matches to play in the regular season.

Their New Zealand hosts are also still in the running for a wildcard place in the playoffs.