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VIDEO: How Jan-Hendrik is paying his 'school fees'

The evolution of Jan-Hendrik Wessels has been unconventional, to say the least.

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The 22-year-old – who featured at lock, loose forward and in the front row at school – is now being groomed as the next ‘hooker project’ at the Bulls.

Born in Bloemfontein and schooled at Grey College, he was a superstar in age-group rugby.

Bulls Director of Rugby Jake White even once compared him to the two-time World Cup-winning Springbok prop Os du Randt.

However, Wessels – at 1.90 metres and 120 kilograms – is now getting most of his game time in the No.2 jersey and being compared to Bok great Malcolm Marx.

Wessels has played 169 minutes of the Bulls’ 180 minutes in this year’s Champions Cup campaign.

He played 12 minutes in the 27-16 Round One win over Saracens, played 80 minutes in the 28-29 Round Two loss to Lyon Olympique and 77 minutes in last week’s Round Three win (31-17) over Bristol Bears.

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Wessels will also start when the Bulls host Bordeaux Bègles in a Champions Cup crunch match in Pretoria on Saturday.

(WATCH as Bulls Director of Rugby Jake White explains how they are ‘grooming’ rookie Jan-Hendrik Wessels to be the next Springbok great in the front row.…)

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He made 91 metres from 18 carries in Europe this season, with one clean break and statistics also reflect that he has beaten two defenders.

The rookie hooker has made 25 tackles, at a success rate of 81 percent – with two turnovers.

Some of his core skills, such as line-out throwing, do need work.

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Last week in Bristol the Bulls won less than 90 percent of their line-outs.

However, that is not of concern to the Bulls boss, who pointed out that Marx also struggled with his core skills when he first came on the scene.

“I am confident he [Wessels] will get it right,” White said.

“There is a hooker called Malcolm Marx, who lost a Test for South Africa against New Zealand and lost a couple of games for the Lions during his ‘learning’ process.

“Now Malcolm Marx is one of the best players in the world,” White said of the 64-times capped Bok stalwart.

“That is the school fees you have to pay,” the Bulls boss said about his rookie No.2.

“The only way he is going to learn is by playing in a big game and throwing the ball in on the tryline.

“I am happy to keep pushing him, because when he gets it right, he has all the attributes to be a great player.

“He knows he has to work hard on that.

“I am comfortable, the more he gets into those situations, the better he will become.”

@king365ed
@rugby365com

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