Lions flyhalf Jordan Hendrikse out for three months
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Johannesburg – Eddie Fouche will, in all probability, be thrust into the pivot role for the Emirates Lions much earlier than expected after the team revealed on Monday a long-term injury to incumbent flyhalf Jordan Hednrikse.
The 20-year-old Hendrikse fractured his right ankle in the Lions’ 36-13 loss to Scarlets this past weekend and is expected to be out rehabilitating for at least three months. The injury will leave the Joburg-based outfit dangerously thin in the No 10 department, with Fouche the only recognized flyhalf in the European touring squad.
Fouche, who ran out for the Lions previously in 2017 to 2019, has played in both United Rugby Championship games thus far, but his time on the field has been limited to a cameo appearance in the victory against Zebre two weeks ago and a more substantial 13 minutes on Saturday past.
The 24-year-old, however, had a solid Currie Cup for Pumas earlier this year.
In that tournament he scored three tries, and slotted over 18 penalties and a further 19 conversions to tally 107 points. He also beat nine defenders, made two clean-breaks and assisted in a try.
Fouche, then, should be the natural successor to the No 10 jersey while on this tour and its remaining two URC matches against Glasgow this weekend and Ulster the following week. Head coach Ivan van Rooyen could, however, opt to slot utility-back Divan Rossouw into the position, or install either Morne van den Berg or Andre Warner – both preferred at scrumhalves – into the all-important position.
Loan Matt More has also played in the No 10 jersey at age level, but the 22-year-old is considered more an inside-centre and has yet to make an appearance for the Lions.
With both Elton Jantjies and Gianni Lombard off to Japan, however, the void at 10 could become a major problem, especially if Fouche gets injured. Tiaan Swanepoel could fill the gap for the Lions if his recovery from fractured right fibula has remained on track. So too can Springbok Ross Cronje. Both are currently in South Africa and will no doubt play a part in the home leg of the URC.
The drafting of Fouche also infers that the particular experiment with Fred Zeilinga might be over, but with the Lions stretched in the No 10 jersey, the veteran could also still be in the mix.
Another option in the future is former Baby Boks James Mollentze. Unfortunately, he too is still recovering from injury to the knee, and like Hendrikse will in all probability only be ready at the end of the year heading into the 2022.
It seems then that Fouche will be the Lions' new starting 10.