CAPE TOWN, 20 MAY 2017There was a time when Cornal Hendricks had the rugby world at his feet before it was all taken away from him.
The Beachcomber World Club 10s in Mauritius offers the former Springbok wing a chance at redemption and a shot at rugby glory again after two years on the sidelines after being diagnosed with a rare heart condition.
Hendricks, 29, will lineup for the Africa Pacific Dragons in the elite eight-team competition to be staged at Mauritius’ Anjalay Stadium on June 17 and 18.
After a barrage of Tests and second and third opinions, Hendricks has been cleared to play at the highest level, but the ordeal of the last two years has been difficult for the elegant wing.
“I’m over the worst now after the setback,” Hendricks says. “For a long time I could hardly sleep at night, not because I was hungry and couldn’t pay my bills, but because I know there is nothing wrong with me and no one would give me a chance. It was so frustrating.
“My faith pulled me through. I stay fit and I believe that I will get another chance to play at the highest level again.
“I look at a guy like [Southern Kings wing] Alshaun Bock, and take inspiration. He made his Super Rugby debut at 34, but he never gave up.
“I come from a disadvantaged area and I tell people I work with in my foundation that I not only play for myself, but for them. I want to give hope to underprivileged children and say, ‘it doesn’t matter where you come from, you can make it in the world.’
“I just want to get back in the game because something that worries me is that I don’t want to waste my God-given talent.
“I have a breakthrough again in Mauritius to show my worth. Time is running out. I’m not getting any younger.
“There have been times I wanted to give up and throw the towel in. But the desire to be on the field is still burning inside me and I can’t let it go.”
The Vodacom Bulls and Toyota Cheetahs are confirmed as two of the eight elite professional teams for the third staging of the tournament
South African Dave Wessels will bring his exciting Western Force squad to the Indian Ocean Island next month to defend the title they won in 2016 while the Brumbies are Australia’s other entrants.
The combined Africa Pacific Dragons will have the Springboks’ most capped Test player Victor Matfield on their coaching staff while Japan’s Kubota Spears, who are making their debut, are coached by South African Frans Ludeke.
English club side Harlequins and French combined unit the Pyrenees Rugby Seven (PR7) complete the elite lineup.
Hendricks credits Beachcomber World Club 10s tournament director Heyneke Meyer with helping make this step into big time rugby again.
“I played some sevens in the Cayman Islands and although the quality of the rugby wasn’t very high, just to be on the field again was thrilling,” Hendricks says.
“After that I had a try out at the Bulls and although I was cleared medically, I never heard from them again. While I was waiting coach Heyneke called me and asked me to play for the Africa Pacific Dragons in the Hong Kong 10s, and well, here I am two months later and on my way to Mauritius. I have to thank coach Heyneke for believing in me.
“Some of the clubs and teams at the tournament want to see me on the field again and it gives me an opportunity to show my skills.
“After Hong Kong I have been in a good space because I have motivation. For months before that I would have to find internal motivation to train with no goal in sight. No one wanted to touch me and it’s hard to stay focused under those conditions.
“But when I had the chance to play 10s, I had a goal to work towards and with Mauritius it’s the same. I’m in the gym, doing fitness and getting myself ready.
“When you don’t know where you are heading it’s difficult to stay motivated. I’m really looking forward to the tournament because there will be some good players and I have a chance to play against some of my ex-teammates. To compete against the best again will be great.”
The Beachcomber World Club 10s is fully sanctioned by World Rugby, Rugby Afrique and Rugby Union Mauritius.

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