Sevens

Prestige of Blitzboks call-up meant Lions had no problem loaning Jordan Hendrikse

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Lions flyhalf Jordan Hendrikse in action against the Stormers at Ellis Park. (Photo by Gordon Arons/Gallo Images)
Lions flyhalf Jordan Hendrikse in action against the Stormers at Ellis Park. (Photo by Gordon Arons/Gallo Images)
  • A call up to the Blitzboks is as prestigious as the Springboks, which is why the Lions let Jordan Hendrikse go to the London Sevens this weekend.
  • The gifted 20-year-old pivot left a decent mark on the Lions' inaugural URC campaign and will acquire skills that will merely broaden his repertoire.
  • Assistant coach Ricardo Loubscher also believes Hendrikse will benefit from the Blitzboks' overall culture of excellence.

Jordan Hendrikse and the Lions treated his mildly surprising enlistment to the Blitzboks for this weekend's London Sevens as nothing less than a prestigious national call-up.

With the Ellis Park-based franchise's interest in the United Rugby Championship (URC) done, they duly obliged to hand their gifted 20-year-old flyhalf over to Neil Powell and co, safe in the knowledge that it's a stint mutually beneficial to all parties.

"It's always nice to represent your country," Lions skills and backline guru Ricardo Loubscher - a former Springbok assistant coach - said on Friday, ahead of the side's Currie Cup meeting with Western Province at home on Saturday.

"It's particularly special when it's the Springboks or the Blitzboks. It's a really great opportunity for Jordan."

READ | Hendrikse ready for unexpected Blitzboks role

The culture of excellence cultivated by Powell over a tenure spanning nearly a decade will be of particular use to Hendrikse, who, despite his age, is being tasked with driving the Lions' future in Europe.

"Off the field, just to get exposure to the national sevens culture will be awesome for him," said Loubscher.

"It's an environment where you can learn a lot. Also, we're obviously very hopeful that Jordan will bring back those experiences and learnings and let it filter down to his own game and to our setup. 

"It's exciting times all round."

There's been a distinct feeling that Hendrikse, despite a profitable URC campaign in terms of points (117), has merely provided a glimpse of the heights he could eventually scale.

His attacking prowess, particularly in terms of snappy decision-making, will receive a major boost in the sevens arena, while he'll also find the defensive demands taxing.

Interestingly, despite his wiry 1.86m, 75kg frame, Hendrikse was a minor revelation with his tackling ability this season as he boasted a pretty decent 92% completion rate.

If anything, the sevens format will merely refine and tighten up his defensive reading of the game.

"Getting exposed to the format is definitely a plus for any player," said Loubscher, who also represented the Blitzboks between 1999 and 2001.

"It really broadens your skill-base in general. One of the biggest things you learn is to beat a defender in a one-on-one situation. If you flip it, one also needs to quickly learn how to be a solid one-on-one tackler. You have to get the hit right the first time.

"Those are definitely skills you can transfer to the 15-man game again."

Play on Saturday starts at 17:00.

Teams:

Lions

15 Quan Horn, 14 Stean Pienaar, 13 Henco van Wyk, 12 Matt More, 11 Edwill van der Merwe, 10 Tiaan Swanepoel, 9 Sanele Nohamba, 8 Francke Horn, 7 Emmanuel Tshituka, 6 Sibusiso Sangweni, 5 Reinhard Nothnagel (captain), 4 Ruben Schoeman, 3 Ruan Dreyer, 2 Morne Brandon, 1 JP Smith

Substitutes: 16 PJ Botha, 17 Sti Sithole, 18 Asenathi Ntlabakanye, 19 PJ Steenkamp, 20 Jarod Cairns, 21 Morne van den Berg, 22 Manny Rass, 23 James Tedder

Western Province

15 Tristan Leyds, 14 Sergeal Petersen, 13 Juan de Jongh, 12 Cornel Smit, 11 Ebenezer Tshimanga, 10 Tim Swiel, 9 Godlen Masimla, 8 Junior Pokomela, 7 Marcel Theunissen, 6 Nama Xaba (captain), 5 Adre Smith, 4 Ernst van Rhyn, 3 Sazi Sandi, 2 Jacques van Zyl, 1 Ali Vermaak

Substitutes: 16 HP van Schoor, 17 Kwenzo Blose, 18 Lee-Marvin Mazibuko, 19 Ben-Jason Dixon, 20 Keke Morabe, 21 Thomas Bursey, 22 Mnombo Zwelendaba, 23 Rikus Pretorius

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