Hendrikse eager to end Lions journey on a high

JORDAN Hendrikse of the Lions with his older brother, Jaden, whom he will reunite with at the Sharks next season. | Shutterstock

JORDAN Hendrikse of the Lions with his older brother, Jaden, whom he will reunite with at the Sharks next season. | Shutterstock

Published Apr 21, 2024


JORDAN Hendrikse wants to have a big last couple of months at the Lions before he starts crafting more rugby memories alongside his scrumhalf brother Jaden at the Sharks in Durban.

High on the 22-year-old flyhalf’s list of things he’d like to accomplish before leaving Johannesburg is to help his current side feature among the top eight teams in the United Rugby Championship (URC) after the final round. And to push for a first title.

The Joburg pride is within reaching distance of cracking a Champions Cup spot. If they do, it’ll be the first time the team from Ellis Park reach the elite level of European club rugby.

But as the last four URC matches progress, the thoughts of his homecoming to Durban will slowly become part of his everyday routine.

He is trying to keep those distractions at bay to ensure he gives everything to the team that gave him a shot at senior rugby so early out of high school.

“I’m not there yet in terms of feeling in two minds about me leaving, the focus is solely to get the job done here at the Lions every Saturday. That is the main goal,” Hendrikse said.

“For us to get into those play-offs, to compete and eventually win something this year. The cherry on top of the cake for me would be if we can get into that play-off.

“That goal of reaching the Champions Cup is something that we set. One or two results changed that a bit. The loss against the Ospreys set us back, but as the Lions we love a challenge. Looking at the teams we are facing, it is a challenge to get to the top.”

And for the opportunities under Ivan van Rooyen and the rest of the Lions coaches, he will be forever grateful. Through all his injuries – the latest a serious shoulder injury – he always returned to the senior squad to slot in when the side needed him.

But despite the setbacks, Hendrikse impressed the Springbok coaches enough to receive his first call-up to the Bok set-up during the recent alignment camp and it was a real eye-opener.

There he had the privilege to also work alongside his World Cup-winning brother again, ahead of their reunion.

“This was something different, insightful. You get to experience what it takes to become a Bok. How they measure your individual stats if you are ready to play at international level. Meeting the coaches and other players in the environment was a real eye-opener.

“I am ready to work hard to hopefully get my opportunity to play for the Springboks.”

He says he can’t put into words the feeling of getting to play next to his brother again as opposed to playing against him. They played together in high school at Glenwood College a couple of times, but they will now get the opportunity to do it next to each other professionally.

Both of them struggled with injuries last year, but their toughest battle was when their father Brian passed away before the World Cup. According to Hendrikse, it was tough on him and Jaden, but they supported one another and had their family behind them.

Off the field, the flyhalf spends his time as a coach for Rugga Schools. Coaching is a big passion of his. Although he is at the start of his professional career, he plans to keep that side of his rugby interest alive during his playing days.

“I started coaching about two years ago and it is all about connecting with the kids, and giving back to our communities. I want them to understand who I am off the rugby field too. Sometimes you just sign autographs and take pictures. But through the coaching, they can understand who I am and what I went through to get to where I am.

“Depending on my schedule, I will have kicking clinics once or twice a year, but have been with Rugga Schools for a while. We are branching out into Durban. We want to make it big to give players the opportunity locally and overseas.”