Will Gatland be shopping at Loftus soon?
WALES coach Warren Gatland may soon be shopping at Loftus Versfeld to replenish his resources in Cardiff.
According to the Welsh website WalesOnline, Bulls rookie loose forward Cameron Hanekom may be a handy addition to the Welsh stocks.
Gatland, after Wales was knocked out in the quarterfinals of the World Cup in France, has started his planning for the next tournament – in Australia in 2027.
He readily admitted that he needs to ‘renew’ a Welsh team that has heavily relied on established and older players for the past decade.
With his focus on ‘youth’, he has reportedly cast his eyes south to a Welsh-qualified star in South Africa.
One potential option for Gatland resides in Pretoria.
In the opening rounds of the United Rugby Championship, Bulls loose forward Cameron Hanekom – who featured at No.8, but is listed as a flank – was a revelation.
Because he qualifies for Wales through a grandparent, he is now a target for that country.
The 21-year-old was Man of the Match as the Bulls annihilated the Scarlets 63-21 in Pretoria a few weeks ago.
According to the tournament stats, Hanekom made 14 carries for 125 metres against the west Walians – with a total of 35 carries after three rounds.
He also beat more players and made more offloads than any other player in the Round One game – which culminated in two tries for the powerful loose forward.
He has made 18 tackles and conceded just one penalty in three matches.
At 1.98 metres and 107 kilograms, Hanekom certainly has the size to pack a real physical punch.
He is a destructive carrier who is relentless in defence, while he is also effective both at the breakdown and set-piece.
Given Wales’ lack of depth up-front, Hanekom appears to be a player Gatland would look at.
It won’t be easy to get the 21-year-old out of South Africa, as he has two years left on his Bulls contract with an option of a third.
There is also no guarantee he will want to play for Wales, given he is highly thought of in South Africa.
But with the lack of playing numbers in Wales, the Welsh Rugby Union’s Exiles programme will be working hard scouring the globe for quality players to add to the talent pool, and Hanekom will surely be at the top of their list.