Burger's last contribution set to be THAT pass as Lions focus on future for URC trip

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Burger Odendaal. (Photo by Lee Warren/Gallo Images)
Burger Odendaal. (Photo by Lee Warren/Gallo Images)
  • Burger Odendaal's final contribution for the Lions looks set to be his shocking off-load in last weekend's Currie Cup derby at Loftus.
  • The 29-year-old, on his way to Wasps despite an early release not being confirmed yet, won't be making the trip for the final URC match against the Dragons. 
  • Coach Ivan van Rooyen believes it's a "perfect situation" to rather blood his younger band of midfielders.

It looks increasingly likely that the un-deserving Burger Odendaal's final contribution for the Lions will be THAT shocker of an off-load he threw at Loftus last weekend.

The 29-year-old midfielder, who's undeniably been the franchise's most influential and consistent backline player in the United Rugby Championship campaign, was surprisingly left out of the touring squad for Saturday's meeting with the Dragons in Newport.

In fact, Lions chief Rudolf Straeuli last week even suggested that Odendaal's departure for English club Wasps could stretch into the new season as his existing agreement only concludes at the end of October.

"We can confirm Burger has signed a contract with Wasps and we are obviously still in talks on when he is going to leave," he said.

"That is detail that I don't want to go through for every player."

A few days later though, the Lions provided some probable clarity in that regard.

READ | Lock Nothnagel leads Lions squad as they embark on final URC trip of season

"Unfortunately for Burger, I know this [non-selection] isn't ideal," said Lions head coach Ivan van Rooyen on Tuesday.

"He's been our regular captain this season yes. I've said throughout that he's been unbelievable for us this season. But we are looking ahead a bit to the future with this game."

Indeed, Van Rooyen made no secret of the fact that a trio of young midfielders in Manny Rass (24), Henco van Wyk (21) and Matt More (23) need to backed for a new season that could feature participation in the European Challenge Cup.

They will, however, be supported by a new experienced kingpin in Marius Louw, who's leaving the Sharks at the end of the current campaign.

"With this being our last URC [match] for the season and an away fixture as well, we believe it's a perfect situation for them to experience a match in Europe," said Van Rooyen.

"We believe it's a dynamic the team needs to experience. We're very excited to unleash Manny and the guys in a situation likes this, to let them express themselves against an international team."

Ironically, two other key members departing from the franchise, prop Carlu Sadie and centre Wandisile Simelane, also couldn't be considered.

Sadie, who's signed for the Sharks, tested positive for Covid-19, while Simelane, expected to move to the Bulls, has "a bad bout of flu".     

Kick-off is at 16:00 (SA time) on Saturday.

Lions touring squad:

Forwards:

Sti Sithole, JP Smith, Jannie du Plessis, Jaco Visagie, PJ Botha, Ruan Dreyer, Asenathi Ntlabakanye, Reinhard Nothnagel (captain), Ruben Schoeman, Sibusiso Sangweni, Vince Tshituka, Francke Horn, Jarod Cairns, Morne Brandon, PJ Steenkamp

Backs: 

Morne van den Berg, Andre Warner, Jordan Hendrikse, Tiaan Swanepoel, Matt More, Manny Rass, Henco van Wyk, Edwill van der Merwe, Stean Pienaar, Quan Horn, Sanele Nohamba, Rabz Maxwane

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