Heinz Schenk
1 minute read
11 Apr 2014
10:00 am

Jake hands Odwa his ton

Heinz Schenk

Sharks director of coaching Jake White yesterday announced an unchanged starting line-up to tackle the Lions in their Super Rugby encounter at Ellis Park tomorrow, which, rather deservedly, means Odwa Ndungane will be the centre of attention.

Odwa Ndungane of the Cell C Sharks during the Super Rugby match between Cell C Sharks and Lions at Growthpoint Kings Park on March 08, 2014 in Durban, South Africa. (Photo by Steve Haag/Gallo Images)

The evergreen winger will play receive his 100th Super Rugby cap, mere weeks after twin Akona achieved the same feat with the Bulls.

What is pretty startling about the brothers’ accolades is that they’ve been earned via the same virtues.

Neither are blessed with the highest pace, meaning they’ve relied on exemplary work ethic and guile.

Whilst Akona continues to be a cornerstone for the Bulls, Odwa’s plight is complicated by the fact that he’s now part of a setup under White brimming with class.

As a result, he differs from Akona because his battle to remain relevant is far more pronounced.

At 33, he’s doing it with absolute aplomb.

“I’m very proud, I’ve been here for 10 years and a lot of guys don’t get to play for one union for that long, so I feel fortunate,” said Ndungane.

“There’s a very happy environment at the Sharks. Durban’s a nice, easy-going place. Bismarck du Plessis, Jacques Botes and I have been here the longest, we’ve been very happy here and I think that’s why players like to come here.

“I’ve spoken to players who have come here on loan and who wanted to stay, they enjoy it here.”

But sentiment can’t cloud things too much, especially for a squad expected to be reinvigorated after a bye.

“The Lions’ forward pack has really been outstanding and then they have a lot of pace in the backline and a lot of skills,” noted White.