JOHANNESBURG – The mercury might have been high on Saturday, but Bulls wing Cornal Hendricks was getting cold itching for the ball in his first professional match since 2015.
Although Hendricks did not see much of the ball in the Bulls’ pre-season match against the Lions at Loftus on Saturday, he did get the monkey off his back of making his return to the game.
The former Springbok spent almost four years out of the professional game due to health problems.
His career stalled when he was diagnosed with a serious heart condition after signing a two-year deal with Western Province and the Stormers at the beginning of 2016. The Bulls have given his career a lifeline after he made numerous attempts to secure a contract over the last few years.
In case you've missed it, here is the team line up for the Vodacom Bulls vs Emirates Lions Warm-Up game Today at Loftus. Kick off 15h00#WU-VBBvLIO #BullsFamily #SuerPowered #RealLiveSuperHeroes pic.twitter.com/ykIrSwGMPd— Official Blue Bulls (@BlueBullsRugby) January 26, 2019
Hendricks admitted that he had butterflies before the match against the Lions, but was not completely satisfied with his first outing in a long time.
“I am very happy that the first game is out of the way now, all the nerves are gone and I am looking forward to the next one,” Hendricks said. “I didn’t get a lot of ball and if you do not get a lot of ball you have to work on other aspects where I focused more on my high-ball catching and individual skills.”
Hendricks, who has 12 Bok caps to his name, said he worked hard on his fitness in the pre-season. The 30-year-old said he hoped to have a run for the Bulls in Sunday’s warm-up match against the Stormers in Cape Town after a disappointing first outing.
“When you don’t get the ball on the wing, you are a bit frustrated because I know my ability and what I can do,” Hendricks said. “We are trying to put structures in place and I just feel that if I had more ball in hand I could have done more.
“I wasn’t happy that I got subbed, but everyone needs to get a chance and I felt I could have stayed on a bit longer and maybe got a bit more ball.”
Hendricks was critical of his own performance calling it “average”, but was happy to get the first game out of the way and vowed to get back to his best.
“I worked hard on my professional skills, I haven’t played professional rugby for four years and I am trying to improve every day,” he said.
“It is great to be back.”