The news that Burger Odendaal would not be part of Bulls Director of Rugby Jake White’s plans going forward sent a shockwave through Pretoria as Odendaal, who was the side’s captain up until White arrived, had become a crowd favourite at Loftus Versveld during his time there.
Now, the former Springbok coach has opened up about his reasons for letting the 27 year old centre go.
“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.
Odendaal was quickly snapped up by the Lions after the news broke and will ply his trade there for the foreseeable future.
“The way the Bulls have played in the past‚ he (Odendaal) was very important to them as captain and leader,” White continued, “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.”