Vodacom Blue Bulls coach Frans Ludeke named 21-year old Burger Odendaal at inside centre for his side’s opening match of the 2014 Absa Currie Cup season against the Xerox Golden Lions in Johannesburg on Saturday.
Odendaal, who was schooled at Monument High in Krugersdorp and represented Golden Lions at the Coca-Cola Under-18 Craven Week in 2011, will make his Absa Currie Cup debut for the team, having already played for the Vodacom Blue Bulls at Under-19, Under-21 and Vodacom Cup level from 2012.
Ludeke named an experienced starting team with all but Odendaal, newly named captain Deon Stegmann and flyhalf Jacques-Louis Potgieter having played for the Vodacom Blue Bulls in the 2013 Absa Currie Cup season.
Stegmann missed last season’s campaign due to injury and last played in 2012. Potgieter was still playing in France in 2013, but has represented the Vodacom Blue Bulls at this level in 2005-07 and 2010.
Ludeke named two newcomers on the bench as well, with 20-year olds Nicolaas Janse van Rensburg and Jesse Kriel set to make their Currie Cup debuts if they take to the field.
“We are all very excited about this campaign, but could not have asked for a tougher start in away matches against the Golden Lions and Western Province,” Ludeke said.
“This will mean that we will have to be at our best from the first minute of the first match. The Lions are a formidable outfit, especially at home. We will be focussing on our own game though. We know what worked for us in the past to be successful and we will have to execute that to the best of our ability.”
Stegmann is also keen to get stuck in.
“We want to win the Currie Cup this year. It is as simple as that. We believe in ourselves and in each other, but the challenge for us will be to go out there and be competitive and consistent in our performances.”
The Vodacom Blue Bulls team is: 15 Jurgen Visser, 14 Akona Ndungane, 13 JJ Engelbrecht, 12 Burger Odendaal, 11 Sampie Mastriet, 10 Jacques-Louis Potgieter, 9 Piet van Zyl, 8 Jacques Engelbrecht, 7 Jono Ross, 6 Deon Stegmann (c), 5 Grant Hattingh, 4 Paul Willemse, 3 Werner Kruger, 2 Callie Visagie, 1 Dean Greyling. Replacements: 16 Bongi Mbonambi, 17 Marcel van der Merwe, 18 Nicolaas Janse van Rensburg, 19 Wiaan Liebenberg, 20 Rudy Paige, 21Tony Jantjies, 22 Jesse Kriel.