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Lions’ Jordan Hendrikse on the prowl for a good curry and a Springbok jersey

Jordan Hendrikse has been a revelation for the Lions. Picture: Gavin Barker/BackpagePix

Jordan Hendrikse has been a revelation for the Lions. Picture: Gavin Barker/BackpagePix

Published Apr 9, 2022

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Johannesburg - Jordan Hendrikse is a big curry man, and any curry will do.

He also recently enjoyed Dwayne Johnson, Ryan Reynolds and Gal Gadot in Red Notice; he attests to being something of a gym-bunny; can binge a good series when relaxing.

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He admires Dan Carter and Elton Jantjies; when the mood takes him, he listens to smooth tunes of old school R&B. And, like any household with four siblings in it, enjoys some good-spirited sibling banter and rivalry.

In many respects, Hendrikse is your average 20-year-old trying to make his way through the world as a man after escaping the clutches of adolescence and innocence. But, also, Hendrikse is quite extraordinary in that he must carry upon his shoulders the strenuous task of leading a senior professional rugby outfit from the flyhalf position.

It is no mean feat, and after only a handful of matches for the Emirates Lions, one that he looks eminently qualified for. Along with older brother Jaden, who plays for the Sharks, one could even state assuredly that they have a great future before them.

Indeed, Jaden already has two Springbok caps to his name, a quality that Jordan can surely emulate sooner rather than later. Hendrikse has that ambition.

“For me now,” he revealed to Independent Media in a recent interview, “it is definitely to become a Springbok in the next few years.

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“The main thing I am focused on now is being consistent in my performances and getting better and better every game. That is the short-term goal, but long-term is to play for the Boks, and wear the Green-and-Gold for many years.”

Hendrikse still has many objectives to achieve before that is perhaps a reality, but that should not distract onlookers from the journey he has already made and the many roads he has travelled to find himself in Johannesburg.

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“We grew up in a very small area close to King William’s Town (now Qonce in the Eastern Cape).

“My father was a professional soccer player in the Western Cape … On my mother’s side, my one uncle played for SA ‘A’ that time – in the apartheid years. The passion for sport came from both sides.

“We played for a small school called Schornville Primary (in Qonce). Jaden and I, we actually played together. He used to be an inside-centre,” Hendrikse revealed, “and we almost made that school unbeatable … That’s when we got bursaries to Dale (College Boys’ Primary) which is a top school in the Eastern Cape.

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“From there, our journey basically kicked off by playing festivals, by being allowed to travel a bit – when compared to the school we were in. We got exposed to other schools and that is how we were scouted for Glenwood High School and both of us attended there.”

After completing his schooling in Durban, Hendrikse moved to the University of Stellenbosch, where he played for Maties in the Young Guns for a few months.

His talents, spotted there, were quickly snaffled up by the Lions Rugby Union, and it is in Doornfontein that the experiences gleaned earlier mixed with the knowledge and wisdom of a senior structure to create a player that is mature beyond his 20 years.

“I’ve learnt a lot from the senior players in terms of coming in as a flyhalf. It is a big step in terms of a team; managing and determining a game, and directing and taking the team forward.

“I had to fit into that role by picking up experience from other players, learning calmness and, in terms of my fitness, what I want to do and backing that up …

“All of their backing gave me confidence in moving (the Lions) forward and managing the team’s direction on the field … that is where all the confidence comes from, and that’s’ why people might say: ‘Jissie, it looks like you have been playing for years’.

“It is from the confidence that the senior players gave me so that I can be myself, and keep me calm. My maturity came from the ability to adapt quickly to fit into my role, while also learning from others – the experienced.

“That took time.

“After a year at the Lions, I had only played in the Under-21 competition. There was training on a daily basis, so it was about learning from practising, watching games and working on and off the field on my game.

“I knew that when the opportunity finally came, I would have to grab it with both hands. I feel like the biggest thing for me was the calmness the senior players brought to me and the confidence they gave me.

“Form that, the maturity started kicking in, because in a senior side you need that. As a flyhalf, you need to lead and control.”

An injury late last year during the Lions tour of Europe in the United Rugby Championship (URC) was a minor set-back for the flyhalf-cum-utility-back, and currently Hendrikse is putting in noteworthy performances that have pundits talking him up as a future star.

So far this season, interruption and all, Hendrikse has played 555 minutes in the tournament, scored 79 points – consisting of one try, 12 penalties and 19 conversions – gained 282m, beaten 14 defenders, passing 107 times, kicking another 68 times, making one clean break and assisting in a try once.

His kick success sits at 76%, while his tackle success is 92%.

Not bad numbers, but while he is relishing his current form, he still has much to improve upon – such as taking on the gainline and attacking defences more often. Luckily, 22-year-old Jaden is there to help.

“We do contact each other, specifically after games, and we do reviews of certain matches,” Hendrikse revealed.

“We give each other pointers on what I can do better in terms of my game; and me telling him, in terms of his game, what he could have done better or that he must work on this or that during the week. But mostly, it is chirping between brothers regarding our teams and the bigger picture.”

The brothers could be in for a duel today when the Sharks host the Lions in the URC, and if Jordan’s words ring true, it will elevate his game as he leads, manages and controls the Joburg backline in a clash that could define both teams’ season.

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