No player epitomised the Bulls’ resolve in this year’s Super Rugby campaign better than Cornal Hendricks.
The 31-year-old wing was at the forefront of the men from Loftus’ brave effort in the weekend’s 28-35 quarterfinal loss to the Hurricanes in Wellington, a superb performance rewarded with two tries.
So dramatic has his improvement been throughout the season that coach Pote Human believes Hendricks, who had to put his career on hold at the end of 2015 to address a serious heart condition, has played himself back into Springbok contention.
“First and foremost, Cornal is a magnificent human being,” said the Bulls mentor.
“He’s a man who just gets on with the job. He doesn’t ask unnecessary questions, never complains and gives absolutely his all during training and in games. I’m so pleased with his form.”
Importantly, Hendricks – who’s played 12 Tests – showed in the New Zealand capital that he’s more than just a classy finisher.
“Of course it’s great that he scored those two tries, but a wing at international level needs more. Cornal is always looking for work and makes his tackles. Those are hallmarks of a good player in that position,” said Human.
“I can safely say that if Cornal is picked for the Boks again he won’t ever let them down.”
Hendricks though looks like one of very few players with international experience that will be around for the Bulls again in 2020 as no less than five current Boks are leaving for greener pastures.
The fates of Duane Vermeulen and Schalk Brits also remain unknown.
As a result, Human feels a tad conflicted over how he should judge this campaign.
“To be honest, falling at the quarterfinal stage is a bit disappointing,” he said.
“But it’s also the first time in six years that we reached the playoffs again. This was a very fine group of players and it’s a pity we’re moving in many different directions now.
“We really grew, we showed again in this game that we could fight back from setbacks and remain competitive.”