Pretoria – Where young talent is a dime a dozen Blue Bulls speedster Jamba Ulengo is fast emerging from rough diamond to the polished item.
Ulengo may be better known for his heroics as a Blitzbok and while he has been with the Bulls since July 2014 he has battling to get a starting berth for the senior side.
While the 11 tournaments he featured in for the national Sevens side since his first call up in 2012 pays testament to his attacking ability, he needed to prove his worth in the 15-man game.
Under the tutelage of Nollis Marais the Free State-born flyer is finding his feet in a formidable back three with Travis Ismaiel and Warwick Gelant.
“It is surreal, I never really dreamt of playing for the Bulls or playing professional at all, I just want to thank the Lord for giving me this talent and I am just going with the flow and enjoying it,” Ulengo said.
The 25-year-old Ulengo was doing well for himself considering he took up rugby by chance and purely to have fun.
“I was never really meant to play rugby, I used to do some athletics when I was younger,” Ulengo said.
“One of the coaches spotted me and said why you don’t try out rugby because you have some speed and you never know far you can go so I just played for fun.”
The back three had been a revelation since the start of the Currie Cup season as they challenge the stereotypes associated with Bulls rugby.
Ulengo is the joint-leading try scorer with other Sevens proponent Kwagga Smith of the Golden Lions with six apiece.
“It’s been amazing, the team has really been playing and going from strength to strength…you just need to wait for your chance and grab it with both hands,” Ulengo said.
“The brand of rugby that we are playing suits me better and I am enjoying it.
“We are enjoying each other and we are enjoying the style of play and we just want to express ourselves.”
Ulengo first emerged as a talent at Jim Fouche in Bloemfontein and represented the Free State Cheetahs in their junior structures.
At the University of the Free State he also rubbed shoulders with newly crowned world 400m champion Wayde van Niekerk.
“We went to the same university, Kovsies, and we did a bit of speed work together with his coach Tannie Ans (Botha) where she helped me a lot,” he said.
While Ulengo harboured dreams of representing the Springboks, he did not want to force it and instead he focussed on enjoying his game.
“It is tangible but I think many of us make the mistake of focussing too hard on it and we forget to play,” Ulengo said.
“I believe it should be a goal but you shouldn’t force it, if it doesn’t come, it doesn’t and if it does just do your best.”