Maritzburg United’s Byrone Hendricks has made an extremely smooth transition from centre back to midfield strong-man.
|Byrone Hendricks @ Backpagepix
Team of Choice coach Ernst Middendorp has several players which can fill the holding midfield position, such as Michael Morton and David Booysen, but currently prefers to use Hendricks there, suggesting that the Cape-born player provides more stability and tactical discipline.
As a natural defender, Hendricks does not look to push forward much, which allows Maritzburg to attack from a solid base, giving the likes of Delron Buckley and Mothokozisi Yende more freedom.
In the two games he has stepped into the breach, against Black Leopards and Chippa United, Hendricks has been outstanding; crisp and precise in the pass, good anticipation and strong in the tackle, the 28-year-old appears to be made for the role.
He has in fact played in that position previously, although it was many years ago.
“I have played in midfield before as a junior and also at Santos for a couple of games, so it was not a shock for me. The main thing is to keep things simple. You need to cover the defence, and it’s also crucial not to lose the ball in that position,” said Hendricks.
The former Santos and Bidvest Wits player is himself not making too much of the transition, his main concern being to contribute in any way he can to the team.
“The coach asked me if I can play there and I said its not a problem. I’m happy to play any position and will always give 100 percent, be it at right back, centre back or centre mid.
“I was injured earlier in the season and this is why I wasn’t playing. Then when I recovered, the other guys were playing very well, so I knew I would not be able to just walk back into the side, I would have to fight for my place,” he added.
Hendricks and his team-mates are looking forward to a tough encounter against Moroka Swallows, who they meet in the Telkom Knockout on Saturday night.
“Swallows are the in-form team. They won the MTN8, they are up there in the league, they finished second last season.
“So this is going to be a very tough encounter, they are a very offensive team, but they do have weaknesses, and we are working on [exploiting] that,” said Hendricks.