Pretoria - While the back three have been cutting opposition defences to shreds with their striking runs, Blue Bulls centre Burger Odendaal has been equally impressive as a traditional battering ram in midfield.
Odendaal may fill the mould of the traditional Bulls centre, taking the crash ball up creating space on the outside, but his aim is be more of an unknown quantity on attack.
“I don’t score many tries so I try to assist the guys next to me, so I can say the guys play off me but I don’t only want to be seen as a player that takes a crash ball, I want to be unpredictable,” Odendaal said.
The fact that Odenaal at 22 can be considered as one of the senior players in their team pays testament to the youthful look of the side.
Burger burst onto the scene during last year’s Currie Cup and has since established himself as one of the top performers in the Bulls team.
A year ago Springbok centre Jan Serfontein had his place in the national side all tied up but when he returns to the Bulls he may find it difficult to crack a starting berth with Odendaal staking a claim for the No 12 jersey.
“There is a big difference between last year and this year especially for the young guys coming through,” Odendaal said.
“They are all excited to play and that was what I brought to the team last year, I was almost the youngest guy in the team and I was just excited to get onto the field every time.”
Key to the Bulls backline’s success so far this season was the licence assistant coach David Manuel has given the players to express themselves with the ball in hand.
“Coach David always says he doesn’t want perfection, he is looking for perfect effort,” Odendaal said.
“There will always be mistakes and there are always things you can improve on, so it is about how you use your opportunities.”
Odendaal said although people questioned whether his move from the Golden Lions where he played during his youth, the new-found appetite for running rugby at the Bulls was a perfect fit for his talents.
“The way we are playing at the moment compliments many of the players and I am thoroughly enjoying it,” he said.
“The more we shift the ball, and Nollis jokes that we are playing ‘Free State’ rugby just shifting the ball left and right but many of the guys are enjoying it.
“The guys are playing for each other, you don’t want to make a mistake and let the team down, but if you do you know they guy next to you will make it right.”
The Bulls tackle Griquas in Kimberley on Saturday (15:00 kick-off).
15 Riaan Viljoen, 14 Sandile Ngcobo, 13 Michael van der Spuy, 12 Clinton Swart, 11 Ntabeni Dukisa, 10 Francois Brummer, 9 Tian Meyer (captain), 8 RJ Liebenberg, 7 Jonathan Adendorf, 6 Johan Wessels, 5 Hugo Kloppers, 4 Jaco Nepgen, 3 Ewald van der Westhuizen, 2 AJ le Roux, 1 Steph Roberts
Substitutes: 16 Martin Bezuidenhout, 17 Luxolo Koza, 18 Hilton Lobberts, 19 Carel Greeff, 20 Rudi van Rooyen, 21 Jonathan Francke, 22 Ruhan Nel
15 Warrick Gelant, 14 Travis Ismaiel, 13 Dries Swanepoel, 12 Burger Odendaal, 11 Jamba Ulengo, 10 Tian Schoeman, 9 Ivan van Zyl, 8 Arno Botha, 7 Jannes Kirsten, 6 Lappies Labuschagne (captain), 5 Marvin Orie, 4 Jacques du Plessis, 3 Werner Kruger, 2 Bandise Maku, 1 Dean Greyling
Substitutes: 16 Corniel Els, 17 Dayan van der Westhuizen, 18 RG Snyman, 19 Nick de Jager, 20 Andre Warner, 21 Louis Fouche, 22 Dan Kriel