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Utility back Immelman has a whole bag of tricks

SPOTLIGHT: Utility Bulls back Henry Immelman has pace to burn, a booming kicking boot and to top it off, he stands 1.89 m tall.

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Immelman hails from the prestigious Grey College in Bloemfontein, but left the South African shores early in his rugby career following junior representation for the Free State Cheetahs.

In fact it was his current coach at the Bulls, Jake White, that saw his progression from schoolboy rugby and lured him to Montpellier in 2016, the same year White was appointed as the new boss for the French club, overseeing all aspects of coaching.

Immelman is a recognised fullback but he is such a versatile back that he can quite easily slot in at wing or centre, positions he has comfortably covered at provincial and club level.

But at the Bulls Immelman is one of a host of very talented backs, amongst them three Springboks in Willie le Roux, Kurt-Lee Arendse and Canan Moodie.

Since moving to Pretoria, he has struggled with niggling injuries resulting in him only having one cap for the Bulls to date.

Immelman has been included on the bench for the Championship Cup clash with the Bristol Bears on Saturday.

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Looking back at the 27-year-old’s overseas career spanning seven years, he has spent five seasons with Montpellier before his two seasons at Edinburgh.

During his time in the Northern hemisphere, Immelman earned over 100 professional caps.

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In 2021 he was the only try scorer for Edinburgh against his new outfit, the Bulls, in the United Rugby Championship showcasing an immense turn of pace for such a big lad.

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In 2022 he sent a 45 metre drop goal through the uprights at Ellis Park against the Lions indicating that he is not just a fast backline player, but he has other skills as well.

His try against the Sharks in the URC in the 2022/23 season was awarded the Edinburgh Try of the season.

On Tuesday the tall, well-built Immelman stepped up to talk to the media, his first on South African soil for a couple of years.

“I always wanted to come back and to be at the Bulls is very special. I grew up supporting the Bulls,” he said.

Asked what position he prefers, Immelman explained to Rugby365 that he loves a more physical role at centre and an attacking role at fullback.

“I am here as a utility back. Most of my career I played fullback but when I was younger in France I played a lot of centre and wing as well. For me, when I play fullback, I love to kick and when I play centre I really like the contact as well.

“It’s like an all-round feeling.”

He also talked about being surrounded by some big name players at the Bulls and what they bring to the training field.

“They are obviously world class players, Springboks, and when they are the Bulls, you can see they bring international experience to the team and to training.

“I will say it is definitely tough, they deserve to be in the team, they are world class players and for me, I take a lot of learnings from them and it definitely makes me better as a player as well,””Immelman said candidly.

With a big smile on his face he revealed that he has never played Currie Cup rugby, something he relishes to do.

“I haven’t played Currie Cup. I am quite excited for that. That was also one of the reasons I decided to come back.

“I really would like to play rugby in South Africa for a South African franchises, so yes, that was one of the big reasons I came back.”

 

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