Wingers Rosko Specman and Cornal Hendricks have been two of the most refreshing surprise packages in this Vodacom Super Rugby season, writes CRAIG LEWIS.
You couldn’t really have predicted it. Prior to this season, Specman had made it big on the sevens stage, with his dazzling footwork and dashing speed serving as the ideal ingredients for Blitzboks stardom.
However, he identified 2019 as the year to give 15s a bash. Standing just 1,72m ‘tall’ and gently tipping the scales in rugby’s equivalent of the flyweight category at 80kg, there were plenty of doubters about this transition.
Then there was Cornal Hendricks, the former Bok who had been turned away from team after team due to fears over a heart problem that looked certain to bring a premature end to his once flourishing career.
Finally, he found a home at the Vodacom Bulls, but no one could really know what to expect from the 31-year-old, who had spent years in the rugby wilderness, all the while desperately trying to prove that he still had the ‘heart’ to play at the highest level.
It’s in this context that it has been quite something to watch this unlikely duo on opposite wings quietly going about defying any doubters.
If you need any reminding, just check out this clip of Hendricks from this past weekend, with the veteran showing the power, skill and experience to finish off one of the tries of the season:
The fact of the matter is that this isn’t the first time we’ve seen Hendricks make a real impression on proceedings this season, with the big man displaying the sort of guile and temperament that has set him apart from other greenhorns.
And you’ve got to just love the juxtaposition between him and his wing partner. On the one flank, we’ve seen the big-and-burly Hendricks with a cleanly shaven head catching the eye. On the opposite wing, there’s the diminutive Specman, with his fleet-footed hot-stepping and colourful hair braids.
From the moment the flyer dazzled on his Super Rugby debut with two stunning tries against the Stormers, he’s found a means to punch well above his weight. Any doubts about that? Let’s rewind to round 14, when he set up this stunning try below with a chip, chase, duck, dive and bastketball-like pass:
It’s been a lot of fun to watch!
In Hendricks, we have a living example of a player who is the very embodiment of what it means to never give up, while Specman has proven that size isn’t all that matters (just ask Cheslin Kolbe).
It’s not all that far-fetched to suggest both Hendricks and Specman have the potential to emerge as real Bok bolters should they produce further standout performances in the playoffs.
Whatever the case may be, full credit has to go to the dynamic duo, who have complemented each other in the most unexpected ways. A little like the buddy-cop duo of Starsky & Hutch.