Brenden Nel - SuperSport
Johannesburg - In one of the most inexplicable moves to come out of Loftus Versfeld for a long time, promising Kenyan forward Daniel Adongo has been released from his contract after just six months at the Blue Bulls.
According to the SuperSport website, Adongo, who at 23 years old is a superb physical specimen, standing 198cm and weighing in at 113kg, will be joining New Zealand province Counties Manakau after being unable to break into the Bulls set-up after some shoddy treatment in his time there.
And it is hard to blame Adongo, who arrived from the Sharks and scored three tries in his first game for the Vodacom Cup team, only to be ignored by the Bulls coaching staff until he was snapped up by former All Black Tana Umaga and offered a contract.
Adongo becomes the second high-profile promising youngster to leave the Bulls – after former SA Schools and SA under-20 captain CJ Stander signed for Munster a few weeks ago.
It seems the lack of game time, and the way Adongo was treated at Loftus were the main reasons for him leaving, after he was specifically recruited by current Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer when he was the Bulls Director of Rugby.
Meyer put in a lot of work to get Adongo to Loftus, and identified him as a future Springbok, especially given his speed, size and explosive power but since Meyer left Loftus Versfeld Adongo has been an afterthought, and was given precious little game time as the coaching staff could not decide whether he was a lock or a flank.
After scoring his hat-trick in his opening game, Adongo was dropped to the bench of the Vodacom Cup team, and then inexplicably sent to Varsity Cup champions Tuks to get game time.
While he excelled when on the field at Tuks, he was used as a substitute and then strangely dropped from the match 22 for the final, apparently because Tuks wanted to include a fetcher on the bench.
Desperate to play, Adongo went back to Nairobi in June to play for the Elgin Warriors against the touring English Counties team, and played so well in the two games that Umaga, who was a spectator at the matches, immediately offered him a two year contract.
It became clear to Adongo that he wasn’t likely to get game time at Loftus Versfeld, especially with the likes of the two Potgieters – Jacques and Dewald – as well as flankers Deon Stegmann, Stander, Warwick Tecklenburg, Jean Cook, Jonno Ross all seemingly ahead of him and the SA under-20 duo of Shaun Adendorff and Wian Liebenberg just behind him.
Meyer’s vision was that Adongo would go on to fulfill the same sort of role that Danie Rossouw did for the Bulls in the recent past, but it seems there were few others in the coaching staff who believed the same.
However, it is hardly understandable how a union who did so much work to lure him from the Sharks, would just turn around and release him so easily, especially as the coaching staff were singing his praises in February.
Adongo has already left for New Zealand and has joined his teammates at Counties Manakau, and will be a part of the side to compete in the ITM Cup – New Zealand’s premier competition and could well turn out for the Chiefs next year in Super Rugby.
“You never want to lose players with that much ability but one can understand that in both cases it is about playing opportunities and the financial benefits for both of them. At the Bulls we have released so many guys in the past and they have come back. We will stay in touch, follow their progress and hopefully they will come back,” coach Frans Ludeke told the Pretoria News of Adongo’s departure.
However, if Adongo does excel in New Zealand it is clear that he will set his sights on an All Black jumper and not a Springbok one, as Meyer had hoped.