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Northampton statement: The signing of ex-Wasps back Burger Odendaal

By Liam Heagney
(Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)

Former Wasps midfielder Burger Odendaal will return to the Gallagher Premiership next season, joining Northampton once his stop-gap switch to Japan comes to an end. The South African was one of 167 players and staff made redundant in October because of the financial collapse at Wasps. It was last April when the centre was confirmed as a new big-name signing from the Lions for the 2022/23 campaign but his Wasps career lasted a measly four games.

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Having already spent a season in Japan, he was quickly snapped up by Todd Blackadder to play for the Toshiba Brave Lupus after a link with Sale came to nought, but he will now return to the Premiership next season.

A statement read: “South African centre Burger Odendaal will join Northampton Saints ahead of the 2023/24 season. Odendaal will arrive at cinch Stadium at Franklin’s Gardens this summer from Japanese side Toshiba Brave Lupus Tokyo, having started this season with Wasps ahead of their administration.

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“The 29-year-old previously captained South African sides the Lions (34 appearances) and the Bulls (111 appearances) across the Super Rugby, Currie Cup and more recently United Rugby Championship competitions.

“The 6ft 2in player also spent the 2018/19 campaign in Japan with Kubota Spears and having already showcased his physicality and ball-carrying ability in the Gallagher Premiership during his brief stint with Wasps, Odendaal is eager to return to England next term.”

Odendaal said: “The last couple of months have been a crazy time for my family and me but I’m very grateful and excited to have the opportunity to come to Northampton Saints. Having spoken to the coaches, I was really impressed by their honesty and I enjoy the brand of rugby that Northampton plays.

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“Throughout my career, I have 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.

“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. I’m really looking forward to returning and testing myself in English rugby once again.”

Northampton boss Phil Dowson added: “We had a good look at Burger even before he had signed for Wasps, so we know he is a quality player. 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.

“He showed while he was in South Africa, and during his short time in the 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 is 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 will be a great fit for us.”

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