Northampton Saints have confirmed the signing of South African centre Burger Odendaal ahead of the 2023/24 Premiership season.
It will be Odendaal’s second stint in the Premiership after he joined Wasps from the Lions at the start of the 2022/23 campaign.
Commenting on his latest signing, Saints director of rugby Phil Dowson revealed that Northampton were interested in the South African before he signed for Wasps.
“We had a good look at Burger even before he had signed for Wasps, so we know he is a quality player,” Dowson said.
“We need guys in our midfield at Saints who can move the ball well with the way we want to play, so Burger’s all-round game was an important factor for us.”
Dowson believes Odendaal will be a great fit for Northampton and further highlighted his all-round game.
“He showed while he was in South Africa, and during his short time in the Gallagher Premiership, that he is also extremely capable in defence as well as being a skilful kicker off either foot, and we like his ability to carry the ball hard too,” he added.
“He’s very self-aware around his own game, with that typically South African ability to consistently get over the gain line, so we are sure he’ll be a great fit for us.”
Crazy couple of months
The 29-year-old centre captained the Lions and the Bulls across Super Rugby, Currie Cup and United Rugby Championship competitions, racking up 34 appearances for the former and 111 for the latter.
He joined Wasps at the start of the season, and played just four times, but moved once the Premiership side went into administration, ultimately signing for Japan Rugby League One side Toshiba Brave Lupus.
Odendaal is eager to return to the Premiership after a ‘crazy time’ for his family.
“The last couple of months have been a crazy time for my family and I, but I am very grateful and excited to have the opportunity to come to Northampton Saints,” he told Northampton‘s website.
“Having spoken to the coaches, I was really impressed by their honesty, and I enjoy the brand of rugby that Northampton plays.”
Not just a battering ram
Odendaal hopes to showcase his entire skillset in his second stint in England and is keen to change some perspectives of his game.
“Throughout my career, I’ve maybe been seen just as someone who can act as a bit of a battering ram in the midfield, but I believe there is a lot more to my game than just taking the ball into contact – I like attacking to space and playing attacking rugby, so it’s exciting for me to join a team like Saints who play in that style already,” he explained.
“We were just getting used to life in the UK when everything happened with Wasps, and the Premiership, from what I experienced so far, is a competition filled with great teams, so I’m really looking forward to returning and testing myself in English rugby once again.”
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The article Premiership: Northampton Saints sign former Wasps and Lions centre Burger Odendaal appeared first on Planetrugby.com.