Bulls’ Cornal Hendricks a ’Jack of all trades’ ... and he masters them all
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Cape Town - Cornal Hendricks has been around the world playing for the Springboks, Blitzboks, Cheetahs and Bulls, but he doesn’t have fond memories of Scotland.
Hendricks is enjoying a ‘second career’ after his heart ailment kept him off the pitch for a few years.
He has shown his versatility by moving from right wing to inside centre for the Bulls when Jake White arrived at Loftus Versfeld, and in recent months he has shifted back to No 14 as the coach brought in former Lions duo Harold Vorster and Lionel Mapoe in midfield.
But Hendricks featured in his original position from his Boland days, outside centre, in last Saturday’s 29-19 United Rugby Championship victory over Cardiff.
He put in his customary big hits in defence, although he didn’t get too many opportunities with ball-in-hand on the 4G pitch at Cardiff Arms Park.
Hendricks was just relieved that the Bulls could record their first URC win.
“It was good – obviously a new position for me, but I always say wherever the coach needs me, I will definitely play there,” the 33-yearold said from Wales this week.
“It’s not what you need, it’s what the team need at the moment. It was good for me to shift into 13, and it was a nice experience for me to play alongside Harold (Vorster).
“The first two games against Leinster and Connacht were very tough – the tempo was obviously higher than Currie Cup. They’ve got a lot of internationally contracted players who play for Leinster, and guys who understand the game.
“Coming from Currie Cup to play Leinster, with a lot of international players in it, was very difficult for us.
But last weekend’s game was good. The first half was tough for us, but we managed to get it right in the second half. But obviously the guys are learning and adapting to these conditions as well.”
While the Blitzboks won the 2014 Commonwealth Games gold medal in Glasgow, Hendricks does not have happy memories of Scotland, but he hopes the Bulls can end off their tour on a high against Edinburgh on Saturday (6.15pm SA time kick-off).
“I’ve toured with the Sevens and we’ve played a lot of tournaments in Scotland. It’s never nice to play there, but we’ve won a couple of tournaments in Scotland back in the day – and we’ve won the Commonwealth (Games) in Scotland with the weather that side,” he said.
“I had a lot of bad experiences as well with the Sevens, but the URC … there isn’t a major difference (to Super Rugby). There is an hour’s time difference, so it’s easy to adjust.
“But the tempo is fast in this competition, and you have to work on your individual skills. As a centre, you have to communicate and organise the defensive line.
“Edinburgh are a team who want to speed up the tempo and throw the ball around. For us, it’s to get the comms (communication) through to the forwards and organise, and cover the width of the field quicker. They will look to take the quick tap as well, so the player who is 10 metres away must react quicker.
“They are a team who don’t want to go through you, but around you, so we as centres must organise the defence to cover the whole length of the field.”