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South African rugby has a new Springbok-ready ‘beast’

By Jon Newcombe
Cameron Hanekom put in a barnstorming performance against Leinster to press his claims for a Springbok start (Photo by Lee Warren/Getty Images)

Rampaging Bull Cameron Hanekom could have played himself into the Springbok team, according to South African rugby legends Jean de Villiers and Schalk Burger.

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Speaking in the latest episode of RPTV’s Boks Office, the Rugby World Cup 2007 winners were full of praise for the performance of the No.8 in last weekend’s URC 25-20 semi-final win for the Bulls over Leinster.

Jake White’s team will face Glasgow in the competition’s decider this Saturday in Pretoria after the Scottish side beat reigning champions Munster 17-10.

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Uncapped Hanekom, still only 22, raised his game to new heights at Loftus Versfeld, carrying 15 times for 126 metres as well as beating more defenders (six) and making more offloads (three) than any other player on the pitch, while he also weighed in with some game-changing tackles in his overall count of 17.  The only thing missing was a try.

While de Villiers said Hanekom “had an unbelievable game”. Burger, who won 86 caps in his Springbok career, believes it could be the start of something special, especially with South Africa now looking for a replacement at the back of the pack for retired No.8 Duane Vermeulen.

“For me, I think Cameron Hanekom had a watershed performance in his career,” said Burger, who played his last Test in 2015.

“That was beast mode stuff. Even from the first attacking set from Leinster, half a line break, and he was in there on the ground and gets the turnover. He carried and tackled. What a performance.”

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Hanekom also qualifies for Wales as his grandmother was born and raised there, so he has two potential international routes to take.

Burger believes he deserves to be wearing green and gold, very soon, rather than red.

“Moving forward, you look at the Test series that is coming up now, the Irish Test match, and there is one position where we don’t have someone.

“Duane Vermeulen, at No.8, used to be a shoe-in, and Jasper Wiese is suspended, so No.8 is one where we look at who are we going to get to fill in.

“Evan Roos has had an opportunity there. Cameron Hanekom, for me, has put his hand up with a performance like that against Leinster to say, this might be my time.”

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