CAPE TOWN – Bulls star Cornal Hendricks has been quite the revelation at No 12 despite the fact that he never wanted to pull on that jersey as the role of the traditional South African inside centre never really appealed to him.
While the Springbok back is seen as a wing-turned-centre, the midfield is actually where it all started for the 32-year-old. And now, the stunner of a season he’s had saw him shift back to his midfield roots – being used first at 13 and later moving to 12 for the Bulls during the domestic season.
His consecutive Man-of-the-Match performances in the Currie Cup semi-final and final was a fitting end to a superb season for the Bulls’ influential player. Add in there the fact that his Currie Cup triumph comes after he was told that he’d never play rugby again due to a heart condition, and his year, his story, feels almost fairytale.
And it’s only Hendricks still finds hard to believe as well.
“I still have to pinch myself every day, winning the Currie Cup is a dream come true. To share that with an unbelievable team like the Bulls, a team with such a rich history, is quite something. I’m still in seventh heaven,” Hendricks said during an interview with KC 107.7’s show ‘Op die Hoofpawiljoen’ earlier this week.
When asked about his preferred position, Hendricks joked: “I’ll play wherever Jake wants me, he can even move me to prop, I’m lus for the game, I’ve scrummed a few times as well.
“I played 12 when I was at Wellington Primary, then when I went to Bergrivier played 13, I also played 13 for Roses United.
“I said to myself that I never wanted to play 12 because if you look at all the traditional 12s in our country – and I’m saying this respectfully – they’re all guys who take the ball to the line, but coach Jake saw something else and luckily our game plan helped me fit into that position. I’m glad I made the move, I’m glad coach Jake and coach Chris (Rossouw; backline coach) saw that in me.
“My focus has been to just focus on the Bulls and enjoy my rugby again, I always figured what must happen will happen.”
You wouldn’t have to search the internet for too long to come across a quote or two from Hendricks on his background and how what he does isn’t just for himself, and if providing inspiration to the youngsters from his home town was the goal, it’s no doubt one that Hendricks has continued to delivere on throughout his remarkable career story.
“As a child growing up in Wellington, watching Boland play WP…I would always look at them lifting the trophy. Who would’ve thought that I’d do it at my age. That’s definitely one of my career highlights, and because I come from Peyton, it’s even more special.
“There are so few people who give us – especially kids who come from those kind of circumstances – opportunities, and for me that moment was bigger than just me, it was for Wellington and everybody who’s ever played a role in my life.”