The Bulls have an abundance of riches in midfield as they plan for their Currie Cup semi-final against Western Province, but Cornal Hendricks, their most consistent midfield star, said they are preparing for a highly-competitive showing from the centres who will be visiting Loftus Versfeld on Friday night.
Centres Dan du Plessis and Springbok Juan de Jongh were in excellent form in Western Province’s crucial win last weekend against the Sharks, and they also have the powerful presence of Ruhan Nel as an option, the Springbok Sevens star playing on the wing in Durban.
“Western Province have a good, exciting backline and we need to give them credit for last week’s performance. They have Juan back to add experience to some special, exciting players. So we are preparing for good competition from them.
“Juan and Godlen Masimla (scrumhalf) both come from Wellington, but they must know who the King of Wellington is – it’s me!” Hendricks joked on Tuesday.
“Look, Harold Vorster and Lionel Mapoe are quality players as well, they have done well as a combination and Stedman Gans is also there,” Hendricks added.
“So we are pretty sorted at centre and myself and Marco Jansen van Vuren won the Currie Cup last season together at centre. We are all learning from Lionel, who has travelled a long road and what he brings for the team is unbelievable.”
The 33-year-old’s miraculous return to rugby following a heart condition began in 2017 when he played for the Asia Pacific Dragons (under the Chinese Zodiac he was also coincidentally born in the Year of the Dragon – 1988) at the Hong Kong Tens under Heyneke Meyer, who first selected him for the Springboks in 2014.
That same resilience that saw him overcome a “death sentence” for his career is what he has brought to the high-flying Bulls and he says his attitude is just to handle whatever Western Province, the weather or life throws at him in the coming days.
Loftus is home
“Home is home, we’re playing at Loftus Versfeld so rain or dew, it does not matter. We will adapt to whatever we get, we will take it as it comes,” Hendricks said.
“Jake White has been testing different combinations at centre, so if we have injuries then we know we have very good combinations there. I became a Springbok on the wing, so that position is always in the memory banks.
“I know I have the ability to go back there and if I do then all the old feelings just come back. I feel very good with my rugby, we are well-prepared and really looking forward to the weekend.
“I have no animosity for Western Province, I come from the Cape. And I don’t know when I will be able to play for the Springboks again, but that is always an honour.”