Springboks scrum-half Jaden Hendrikse said it was a “privilege” to face a hero of his in Aaron Smith during South Africa’s 26-10 triumph over the All Blacks in Nelspruit on Saturday.
Hendrikse started from the bench but was thrust into the action after Faf de Klerk was knocked out cold in a horror collision that saw the livewire back stretchered off the field.
The replacement came on to produce a calculated and measured performance in a memorable win, and Hendrikse said it was “fairly easy” to stay calm.
“It was very unexpected! You obviously don’t plan to be involved so soon, and as I was getting on to the field I was getting all these messages (from the coaches)…” Hendrikse told IOL.
“But it was actually fairly easy to settle down because for me it is always about just staying in the zone, shutting out the noise and sticking to what works for me.
Facing his hero
“That said, I was obviously aware that I was playing against one of my heroes in Aaron Smith and it is such a privilege for me to have done that. To play against the All Blacks was a childhood dream of mine and suddenly it was happening.
“And when I saw Faf making an appearance on the sideline I felt a little boost, just knowing that he was okay because it had looked bad.”
Springboks coach Jacques Nienaber believes that Hendrikse played well in the circumstances and benefitted from having started in the final Test against Wales in July. However, the tactician also alluded to the outstanding depth that South Africa has at scrum-half.
“I thought Jaden stepped up well,” Nienaber said. “We backed Jaden in the last Test match against Wales and he wasn’t nervous at all when he came on.
“We’re fortunate that we have quality scrumhalves with players like Faf, Jaden, Cobus Reinach, Herschel Jantjies and Grant Williams. There’s a lot of competition in the squad.”
Wing Kurt-Lee Arendse announced himself on the international stage, scoring his first Test try in only his second game, both of which he had started.
But the speedster’s night ended badly as he collided terribly with Beauden Barrett in the air, earning himself a red card and a concussion. With star back three player Cheslin Kolbe still sidelined due to a broken jaw, Nienaber will have to lean on other squad members to fill the position, with Warrick Gelant and Jesse Kriel the front-runners.
“It looks like we have lost Kurt-Lee… we’ll see what happens there and have a discussion around that,” the head coach said.
“I’ll sit with the selectors but we’ve still got Jesse, who we’ve played there last year and in 2018, and he has started there against New Zealand, so he’s a guy who can play there for us.
“We’ve got Warrick Gelant who can help us there, so there are a couple of options we have available.”
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The article Jaden Hendrikse: It was a ‘privilege’ facing veteran Aaron Smith appeared first on Planetrugby.com.