Twin broth­ers left their mark on the game na­tion­ally

Daily Dispatch - - Sport - By ROSS ROCHE

IT WILL truly be an end of an era by the end of this month as Sharks leg­end and ul­ti­mate pro­fes­sional Odwa Ndun­gane hangs up his boots and bows out of the game on his own terms.

It has been a dis­tin­guished ca­reer for the vet­eran that has spanned an in­cred­i­ble 17 years since mak­ing his pro­fes­sional de­but in 2000 and then over a decade at the Sharks since join­ing up with them in 2005.

“It has been an in­cred­i­ble 12 years in Dur­ban, this has been my home and these guys have be­come my fam­ily for over a decade and it is sad that it has to come to an end,” he said.

“I am try­ing not to think too much about the end, it is go­ing to be very hard to say good­bye, I have been blessed to have been able to play this long and I am re­ally go­ing to miss pulling on the jersey.”

Odwa has at most three matches left to play, in a ca­reer that has seen him play an amaz­ing 321 first-class matches at all lev­els, should the Sharks go all the way and make the fi­nal of the Cur­rie Cup which will be played on the last Satur­day of the month. But he will first play in his trib­ute match this week­end against WP and then line up in the semis next week­end with the Sharks op­po­nents still to be de­cided.

“My fo­cus now is just on the West­ern Prov­ince match, we don't want to lose mo­men­tum be­fore the semi­fi­nals so we want to win this game and take it into the semis and hope­fully the fi­nal,” said Odwa.

“It would be amaz­ing to win another Cur­rie Cup ti­tle but whether we win or lose it will be a very emo­tional oc­ca­sion for me.”

How­ever Odwa will not be lost to South African rugby as he will join up with his twin brother, for­mer Blue Bulls leg­end Akona, with the duo set to make their mark as sports agents based in Pre­to­ria.

They will now be look­ing to nur­ture and guide the ex­cit­ing tal­ents of up-and-com­ing rugby play­ers as they make their way from the ju­nior to se­nior side of the game.

“Akona has al­ready got his li­cence and we have opened our agency al­ready,” said Odwa.

“We cur­rently are rep­re­sent­ing four young­sters from around the coun­try and we will be look­ing to in­crease that num­ber as we grow the busi­ness. We want to give back just as much, if not more to the sport that gave us so many happy years and we hope to do that through this agency.”

The broth­ers cur­rently hold the dis­tin­guished record of be­ing the only twins to have ever rep­re­sented the Spring­boks, although never at the same time and only played to­gether for a brief spell early in their pro­fes­sional ca­reers.

“It was great to be able to play along­side Akona, even for a short spell, but it was also dif­fi­cult be­cause we played in the same po­si­tion,” said Odwa.

“But even when I moved to the Sharks and Akona went to the Bulls, it was still the most amaz­ing vibe when we played against each other.

“The whole fam­ily would travel to Dur­ban or Pre­to­ria and it was just a won­der­ful ex­pe­ri­ence, even though one of us al­ways had to end up on the los­ing side.”

The broth­ers did how­ever play to­gether for many years dur­ing their school years. They were born in Mthatha be­fore mov­ing to EL where they at­tended Hud­son Park High, turn­ing out for their first team.

“Odwa and Akona have be­come folk he­roes at Hud­son over the years, ev­ery­one here prides them­selves that they at­tended Hud­son and the legacy that they have left be­hind is im­mense,” said Hud­son Park High deputy head­mas­ter Dave Alers.

“They have been amaz­ing, not only as rugby play­ers, but also as de­cent hon­est peo­ple who have been great role mod­els for the kids.

“We would like to wish Odwa well in his fi­nal few games and we hope that he and Akona will con­tinue to lead off the field as they did on.

“Next year is their 20-year re­union and we are hop­ing we can get them both back as guest speak­ers for the re­union, which would be a won­der­ful oc­ca­sion for the school.”

Fol­low­ing their school ca­reer Odwa went on to make his pro de­but for the Bor­der Bull­dogs in 2000, while Akona made his de­but for the Mighty Ele­phants in 2003, be­fore join­ing Odwa at the Bull­dogs for a sin­gle sea­son.

“Odwa has had an amaz­ing ca­reer and we wish him all the best for his fu­ture af­ter rugby,” said di­rec­tor of Bor­der Rugby Du­misani Mhani

“He made his de­but at the Bull­dogs and still has a few more games to play and we hope that he will bow out on a high by lift­ing the Cur­rie Cup tro­phy once again.”

In his three years at the Bull­dogs Odwa fea­tured 49 times, scor­ing 125 points while in Akona’s only sea­son he fea­tured 17 times, scor­ing 70 points.

“We did have both broth­ers play­ing for us at the same time at a stage, it was only a short time but they were bril­liant and it was so dif­fi­cult to tell who was who,” said Mhani.

“We are very proud of both Odwa and Akona and what they have gone on to achieve over the years and hope that they will stay in­volved in rugby for many years to come.

“We would love to have them back at Bor­der at some stage, whether it is to con­duct a camp or just to come and in­spire the team and we look for­ward to when they will be back.”

It will be very in­ter­est­ing to see ex­actly what the fu­ture holds for two leg­ends of the game, but what should be in no doubt is that they have left their per­ma­nent mark on rugby in SA and will be fondly re­mem­bered by fans for many years to come.

Pic­ture: FILE

OP­PO­SITES AT­TRACT: Akona and Odwa Ndun­gane seem to en­joy the mo­ment af­ter another great match

IN HOT PUR­SUIT: Odwa Ndun­gane never backs away from a chal­lenge

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from South Africa

© PressReader. All rights reserved.