More than a wing and a prayer with flier Ulengo


But tries is what it’s all about. And when Jamba Ulengo fills in a rugby job description, he can write 'I CAN SCORE TRIES' in big bold letters.

If I go down the current list of Springbok wings, you can search long and hard for one that ticks all those boxes. But you won’t find one. That I can guarantee you.

Ruan Combrinck comes close and when fit he can (and should) be considered a top Bok wing.

But his availability for the Springboks’ showdown this weekend against England at Twickenham is in doubt.

And, besides, this isn’t about him.

Ulengo is the man who can tick most of those boxes we unpacked above. And he should be a true-blue Springbok, not just one who plays against the Barbarians. It’s as simple as that.

Springbok management on Sunday confirmed that the Bulls flyer will stay on in the Bok camp as possible cover for Combrinck, JP Petersen and Willie le Roux.

And even though I feel that Ulengo should have been more than just a last-minute back-up plan, the fact that he could potentially get a chance to show exactly why he deserves to be there will do for now.

The former Springbok Sevens star has been in sublime form with the Pretoria-based outfit this season.

But that awe-inspiring physical condition is nothing new.

Last year he scored nine tries in the Blue Bulls’ first nine matches of the Currie Cup competition - and, needless to say, he ended up topping the try-scoring charts on 11.

This season he was again one of the leading try scorers but, especially in the modern game, a strong finishing ability isn’t all a wing should be able to do.

And that’s where Ulengo comes in.

As anybody who watched one Bulls’ games recently should be able to tell you, the 26-year-old is something else.

He has mean pace. He has an impressive work-rate. And he is not easy to take down, not at all.

In fact, he is without a doubt one of the toughest outside backs to take down in the tackle. He is always well aware of his support runners and runs great support lines. Ulengo’s worth becomes even more prominent if you look at the current Springbok wings.

Bryan Habana is way past his prime and JP Pietersen is another man who has seen better days. Sergeal Petersen was one of the most talked-about players this season. But he had a very disappointing outing with the Boks against the Barbarians on Saturday.

Ulengo commands attention with his strong runs downfield, his speed, and his vast array of skills. And if that doesn’t make him deserving of a regular Springbok spot, I don’t know what will.

Cape Times

Original source: More than a wing and a prayer with flier Ulengo