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Hartzenberg hungry for more heroics

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After his hat-trick heroics, Hartzenberg has his sights set on putting in another good performance against Ulster on Saturday at the Cape Town Stadium (7.15pm kick-off).

Suleiman Hartzenberg of the Stormers. Picture: Ryan Wilkisky, BackpagePix

Leighton Koopman

Suleiman Hartzenberg hit the headlines after his hat-trick for the Stormers last weekend, and that could catapult him into Springbok reckoning.

In fact, he was invited to the first Bok alignment camp in Cape Town a few weeks ago, so he has had a taste of the national team environment.

Hartzenberg was at right wing in the 43-21 win over Edinburgh last Saturday, but is equally comfortable at outside centre.

He featured in both positions for the Junior Springboks previously, so he knows what is expected at international level.

Hartzenberg – who hails from Manenberg, matriculated at Bishops and has come through the UCT Varsity Cup side – harbours dreams of reaching international rugby.

“It was an amazing experience, just being in that environment and seeing how everything works,” the 20-year-old said this week.

“It definitely added to my aspirations of becoming a Springbok. But obviously you have to be performing for the Stormers first, and then if you do everything well at the Stormers, you will get the recognition of a call-up.

“For now, it is purely Stormers-based, and whatever happens, happens.

“I do enjoy playing 13 (outside centre) as well, but understanding where we are in the URC and what the team needs from me, I am happy to play at wing and give my best, and then later on look to make the shift to 13.

“Whichever position I am in, I will give my best.”

But for those dreams to be realised, the versatile speedster wants to put his best foot forward for the Stormers in the United Rugby Championship and Champions Cup first – and the rest, he believes, will follow.

Now, after his hat-trick heroics, Hartzenberg has his sights set on putting in another good performance against Ulster on Saturday at the Cape Town Stadium (7.15pm kick-off).

In last season’s URC clash against Edinburgh, Hartzenberg scored a double, but he laughed when probed if he would make it four five-pointers during their next encounter.

“I was just on hand to dot the ball down. It’s thanks to our backline that I could score the tries,” he said, humbly giving credit to his teammates.

His first touchdown was off a Manie Libbok cross-kick, while he was on hand to receive a pass in space after fullback Damian Willemse drew the Edinburgh defenders onto him with a good run.

For the third five-pointer, he dived over in the second half after a half-break by centre Wandisile Simelane, which put Evan Roos in space to set up Hartzenberg.

“I got onto the scoreboard thanks to the team’s success, how hard the forwards worked and our attitude towards the game. It helps to have Manie and Damian on the inside of you. Our backline was on fire, so it made my job easier,” the former Junior Springbok star said.

“It does feel amazing to score three tries, but you have to reset ahead of the new week. That was one week’s performance, and you have to bank it and move on to the next.

“If you stay too long on the high, you might not look forward to the next game or not prepare that well.”

Hartzenberg is looking forward to what Ulster will bring this weekend and to hopefully build on his performance from last Saturday.

He was also solid on defence, and showed his nerve under the high balls that came his way and the kicks he chased.

Hartzenberg added that it’s been a learning curve navigating his fasting during Ramadaan at the moment, and adapting his routine when it comes to preparation.

This past weekend, he and captain Salmaan Moerat could only break their fast after the game, but against Ulster they will be able to eat and drink before the 7.15pm kick-off.

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