Darling of Loftus, Derick Hougaard, eyes a new career … in the NFL

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Former Springbok and Bulls flyhalf Derick Hougaard isn’t done with his sporting career.

The now 37-year-old, who played eight Tests for the Springboks, has set his sights on … the NFL!

Hougaard believes he can resurrect his career, which was cruelly cut short by injury, by impressing as a kicker at a scouting trial next month.

His decision to try out as a punter comes following the establishment of World Wide Scholarships (WWS Africa) by former college football player, Zimbabwe’s Munya Maraire, and ex-Golden Lions high-performance manager, Bart Schoeman.

The aim of the organisation is to lure local talent to the USA which would hopefully then lead to a NFL contract.

‘I had a wonderful 14-year career as a rugby player, but when any athlete’s career is cut short by injuries, it’s a matter of unfinished business,’ Hougaard said in a statement.

‘I played rugby all over the world, but to end my career as an American football player in the USA would be an unbelievable victory for me.’

‘All athletes dream of second chances and this is mine. Of course there are no guarantees, but the Covid-19 pandemic taught me not to delay chasing my dreams and to be more proactive in achieving them. I’ve already ordered a full playing kit and I’ve started training to be prepared for the trials later this year.’

Should he be successful, Hougaard would follow in the footsteps of another Loftus Versfeld legend, Naas Botha, who also sought fame and fortune in the USA during an ultimately unsuccessful trial with the Dallas Cowboys in the early 1980s.

The most successful SA-born NFL player to date has been Gary Anderson who played for 23 years – and for six teams – as a place kicker, most notably the Pittsburgh Steelers between 1982-1994.

Hougaard, nicknamed ‘Liefling of Loftus’, played 68 matches for the Blue Bulls and made 43 Super Rugby appearances for the Bulls.

He also scored 69 points for the Springboks in his eight Tests.

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