Vodacom Bulls coach Pote Human says Cornal Hendricks is hungry for action ahead of his debut against the Jaguares in Buenos Aires on Saturday.
Hendricks will run out for his first competitive appearance for the Bulls after being heavily involved in their pre-season. It brings a remarkable story for the 30-year-old full circle after he was diagnosed with heart issues shortly after making the move from the Cheetahs to the Stormers in 2016.
Since then, the 12-cap Springbok has been playing club rugby for Roses United, but was somewhat surprisingly signed by the Bulls last year.
While Human previously said he wanted Hendricks to have more game time under his belt before making his Vodacom Super Rugby return, he told the media on Tuesday that the former Blitzbok should be ready for the weekend’s clash.
‘He played this past Saturday on the Loftus B field against the Naka Bulle,’ Human said. ‘He needs a chance as it is the only way he will get sharper. It is an opportunity for him. There are a couple of guys who were unlucky, like Divan Rossouw and Jade Stighling, who are both knocking on the door.
‘It was a choice between those three and we decided to go with Cornal. He has been in Buenos Aires and played over there, so it will mean a lot to him. If you watched Spekkies [Rosko Specman] last weekend, he took his chance with both hands so we hope we can see the same with Cornal this weekend.
‘He is going to have to bank on his experience from previous years. But he is very hungry and very positive about it. When I told him he was going to play he was just very excited and said, “Coach, I won’t let you down”. So I am very happy for him.’
Human said that the breakdown will be a major focal point this weekend, adding that his side cannot afford to give the Jaguares clean ball to attack from.
‘We have to slow down their ball. They can throw it around and thrive from turnover ball. If you can put them under pressure, keep them there and keep them quiet, but if they get a sniff they can bring it to you.
‘Last year, we were in the game until we went over the line, and then [flank] Thembelani Bholi lost the ball. After that, they just smashed us. If they get momentum, it is difficult to stop them.’