Jake White reveals the reasons behind former Bulls captain and crowd favourite Burger Odendaal's exit

Burger Odendaal of Vodacom Bulls during the Super Rugby match between Cell C Sharks and Vodacom Bulls at Jonsson Kings Park Stadium on January 31, 2020 in Durban, South Africa.
Burger Odendaal of Vodacom Bulls during the Super Rugby match between Cell C Sharks and Vodacom Bulls at Jonsson Kings Park Stadium on January 31, 2020 in Durban, South Africa.
Image: Darren Stewart/Gallo Images

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

The 27-year-old Odendaal joined the Lions after his shock 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 he told the experienced centre he could not guarantee his place in the team as the Bulls would be playing a brand of rugby that was different to the one the side played under his captaincy.

“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‚” said White.

“The way the Bulls have played in the past‚ he (Odendaal) 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.

“Just to share something with you‚ way back in 2004 when I took over as Springboks 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 though 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.

"He realized that from a market value as captain of the Bulls team where he was on a good salary to not being guaranteed game time‚ he decided to go.”

White said he heard rumours that South African teams may go into a ‘bio-bubble’ to play their own version of the 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‚ because those companies have put lots of money into Super Rugby.

“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.”

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