New Sharks Director of Rugby Brendan Venter has confirmed, via the Sharks Website, that Odwa Ndungane will be used primarily fullback for the upcoming Currie Cup campaign.
32-year-old Odwa, one of the real veterans in the backline, has long been slated for such a move, with fans who’ve seen him play in the position on a number of occasions over the last few years generally full of praise for what they’ve seen. With a number of bright young prospect coming through at wing, coupled by something of a talent drain in the last line of defence, it does make sense for Odwa to make a move into the number 15 jersey, particularly given that Louis Ludik’s move to outside centre also appears to be a campaign-long one.
Ludik started alongside fit-again Tim Whitehead in midfield for the Sharks on Friday night and the smart money would be on the two reprising those roles against Griquas on Friday, particularly given Marius Joubert’s latest injury.
According to Venter, Odwa Ndungane and Jaco van Tonder are the two men to be rotated at fullback, with incoming Kings back SP Marais seen as a “squad member”, at this stage, albeit one who is a more-than-capable fullback despite offering cover in other positions too.
Returning to the topic of Ndungane, though, Venter reveals some interesting, if unexpected, information: “We had the players tested and Odwa was the third fastest player in our group, we were very impressed with his stats, his conditioning is fantastic and he’s a leader.
“We see him primarily as a fullback now. He will help to give our backline some zip as well. He’s experienced, he organises the backs, he kicks the ball out of hand beautifully so after losing Riaan [Viljoen], we’re very privileged to have Odwa who steps in there. He was brilliant against the Kings, and he has been at training too.”Tweet