Vodacom Bulls director of rugby Jake White says centre Cornal Hendricks has potentially been the team’s best player following the Currie Cup title win. DYLAN JACK reports.
Hendricks added another chapter to his remarkable story by playing an integral role in helping the Bulls claim a domestic double of Super Rugby Unlocked and the Currie Cup.
The 32-year-old had to adapt to a new role at inside centre when White took charge of the team, but he has done so with such ease that one would think that he had been playing there for most of his career.
A man of the match performance in the Currie Cup final win against the Sharks on Saturday was a demonstration of what makes him such a special player, as he appeared to be one of the Bulls’ most threatening attacking players in the match.
‘He has been phenomenal,’ White said in the post-match press conference. ‘He has probably been our best player. I played him at centre and spoke to [Bulls backline coach] Chris Rossouw about him and he has just been phenomenal.
‘I have said it before, a lot of guys who have played in that jersey before for other teams like Ma’a Nonu and Tana Umaga, have started on the wing. He has got a great appreciation for space and understanding for what guys in the midfield need to do.
‘Obviously you have experienced guys like Morne Steyn, who has been around, and Ivan van Zyl. Don’t underestimate the impact of the three of them on the inside of some of those youngsters, they are going to learn a lot from a guy like Cornal.
‘I am saying the obvious when I say he is professional, very dedicated. He is a great, great communicator and works hard. What’s also nice is that he is a Springbok. He has been there and done it, so he is sharing that knowledge. I am very happy for him. I am sure that his ability to play wing and centre is a great bonus for him as well.’
White, however, would not be drawn on whether Hendricks deserves a recall to the Springboks, whenever the team returns to Test rugby action. Hendricks last played for the Springboks in 2015.
‘The nice thing about it is that I am not involved in the national team, so it’s not up for me to decide,’ White said. ‘I just know that he has done really well for the Bulls. Having coached the Springboks, I don’t think it’s fair for professional coaches to talk about who they think should and shouldn’t play for South Africa.
‘We are world champions and have great coaches. Rassie Erasmus and Jacques Nienaber know who they are looking for. I am sure that if they think he is good enough and will add value, they will pick him.’
Photo: Lee Warren/Gallo Images