Hanekom's Loftus performance sends out a strong message

rugby17 June 2024 11:30| © SuperSport
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Cameron Hanekom © Getty Images

If there ever was a day that a player needed to make an impression, then Cameron Hanekom chose the right day to do it.

With the Springbok management watching on, the young Vodacom Bulls upstart put in one of the biggest performances of his short career against a virtual international Leinster side and made such a statement that it may be hard to ignore him for the upcoming international season.

Hanekom, whose debut season has been nothing short of sensational this year, dominated every single stat in the brave win over Leinster and was a worthy man of the match in the process.

And with it the Bulls pulled off one of the biggest upsets in the Vodacom United Rugby Championship and booked themselves in a home final.

With the Boks likely to choose between Kwagga Smith, Evan Roos and Phepsi Buthelezi for this weekend’s match against Wales at Twickenham, Hanekom’s attention will be solely on the final, but it is hard to think that he didn’t make a significant impression on the Bok management with his play after this weekend’s match.


Just a look at the performance on the day would make any coach proud.

Hanekom led the way with the most successful carries (10), the most clean breaks (3) - one more than James Lowe and the most defenders beaten (6).

He also topped the stat for the most metres made by a Bulls player - 81 and also had two offloads on the day.

On defence he was the top tackler with 18 - three more than Leinster’s best player in Josh van der Flier, won two turnovers and had a 100 per cent tackle success rate.

And those are just the stats that are easily available.

Either way it caused his coach Jake White to sing his praises after the game.

“Unbelievable,” was White’s reaction, “I gave him a team talk the entire week, I said to him ‘this is it’. This is when you want to get measured against the best players in the world.

“Josh van der Flier just said to me ‘what a guy’. We tried to get into him, put him on the deck. He kept coming back at them. Everytime they put him down he kept on coming back.

“He will get better, he is 21 and he is currently keeping Marcell Coetzee out of the team. He’s 21, but he showed he can play at this level. It is probably the best he has played for us since he has come in.

“He has had moments when he has played well, but over the 80 minutes he was superb. He was man of the match and that is fantastic for us.”

Whether Hanekom gets a look in now, or has to wait his turn at the Boks, waits to be seen. But there will be a number of fans who will hope that it has not gone unnoticed, and that he fits into the Green and Gold plans, especially as he is also Welsh qualified.

And Warren Gatland wouldn’t think twice about calling him up if he had the chance.