Jan 20, 2015
A Foot in Both Camps - Derick Hougaard
Derick Hougaard will have a foot in both camps next Saturday, as Saracens face South African giants the Vodacom Blue Bulls at Allianz Park.
The fly-half, who played for both Saracens and Sanlam Challenge opponents the Vodacom Blue Bulls, has warned Saracens that their latest South African opponents will pose their greatest threat to their 100% record against South African opposition.
"If they hit their straps they (Blue Bulls) can be a really dangerous team," said Hougaard. “They have been really concentrating on the tight five and trying to control games and be one of the heavyweights of Super Rugby in that area,” he says. “But if you look at the backline, with the likes of Francois Hougaard, Handre Pollard and JJ Engelbrecht, it is probably one of the best they have ever fielded."
Capped eight times by South Africa, Hougaard originally swapped Loftus Versfeld for Leicester Tigers in 2008 before joining Saracens in the summer of 2009.
Hougaard, who's calm and ease in the No10 shirt won him many admirers during his time in north London has revealed how he was ready to pack his bags and leave the UK before signing for Saracens, after Heyneke Meyer, the man who persuaded him to come to England, left Leicester Tigers after just six months.
"I was ready to go back to Pretoria," Hougaard says. "I was left on my own after Heyneke went all of a sudden and it was quite uncomfortable as we came as a pair, really. But I wasn't about to pack it in so I stayed until the end of the season and then planned to go home. I then met Brendan and he told me all about what was happening at Saracens. He is a very, very persuasive guy and not the sort of man you say no to so I signed. It was the best decision I ever made."
Hougaard said he "enjoyed the best years of his career at Saracens" and "would loved to have stayed until I was 35" but a crippling Achilles injury robbed him of his best years and forced him to retire and return to South Africa in 2012.
"I tried so hard to make a comeback with the Bulls but I just lost so much elasticity and power in my foot after the Achilles injury," he says. "It was the hardest decision ever to have to retire. You know it will come at some stage but you hope that it's on your terms and you are able to wave and say goodbye properly. Bravery isn't about smashing into tackles, being brave is accepting the challenges you face head on and I took a while to adjust."
Hougaard threw himself into coaching as kicking guru with the Bulls. "We had some good, early success but I didn't want to get sucked into coaching too early," says the 32-year-old. "I wanted to get something behind me, some security and some experience in the corporate world so I'm doing a business degree."
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