Jake White. Picture: GALLO IMAGES/STEVE HAAG
Jake White. Picture: GALLO IMAGES/STEVE HAAG

Bulls director of coaching Jake White has explained the reasons behind the shock decision to allow former captain and crowd favourite Burger Odendaal to leave the Pretoria side in July.  

The 27-year-old Odendaal joined the Lions after his exit from the Bulls, and White said he allowed the unexpected move to happen when he realised he was not going to be able to guarantee him game time.         

White said the Bulls would be playing a brand of rugby that was different that under Odendaal’s captaincy, and so the experienced centre’s place will not be sure. “I just felt that it was going to be difficult to continue with him as captain or player because I was not guaranteeing him a place in the starting line-up.

“The way the Bulls have played in the past‚ he was very important to them as captain and leader. I had a chat with him and told him, ‘The reality is that you have been a great servant of the Bulls but I can’t guarantee you a starting position’. It had nothing to do with him as a person‚” White said.

“Just to share something with you‚ way back in 2004 when I took over as Springbok coach my centre pairing was De Wet Barry and Marius Joubert, who are really great players and good people. De Wet Barry is one of the best rugby people I have ever met in my life, but when we got to the World Cup in 2007 we had Jean de Villiers‚ Francois Steyn and Jaque Fourie as our centres.

“What it meant was that I had evolved as a coach and I had moved on from a player like De Wet Barry and when I looked at Burger I thought it is almost like going back to De Wet in 2004. I said it to him‚ and that I want to play a little bit differently because I have learned enough lessons to know that the game can be played in a different way.”

Odendaal then realised it was time to go, White said.  

Meanwhile, the coach also dealt with rumours that SA teams may go into a “bio-bubble” to play their own version of  New Zealand’s Super Rugby Aotearoa: “It’s all pure speculation that the Super Rugby teams [will] play against each other because sponsors want the competition to have taken place.

“The reality is that people have paid lots of money for Super Rugby and that’s why New Zealand and Australia have done what they have done.

“If Super Rugby teams play against each‚ you get strength versus strength in one bubble, which is logistically easier to handle. Then you get the Currie Cup teams in another bubble and you all play against each other in the second round.

“If that happens‚ the Boks will be better prepared because you have strength versus strength with selectors watching,” White said.

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