Jesse Kriel ‘desperate’ for Springbok minutes ahead of Rugby World Cup

FILE - Springbok utility back Jesse Kriel during a warm-up prior to a Test match. Photo: Geoff Caddick/AFP

FILE - Springbok utility back Jesse Kriel during a warm-up prior to a Test match. Photo: Geoff Caddick/AFP

Published Jul 20, 2023


There's a sense of desperation in Jesse Kriel to get some minutes under the belt for the Springboks ahead of the World Cup squad announcement on the 6th of August.

Kriel is one of the players in the wider squad who hasn't tasted any test match minutes for the Boks yet, and should he get a look-in against Argentina in Johannesburg next week, will be keen to remind the Bok coaches of his abilities.

It will be the final match of the truncated Rugby Championship and although South Africa requires a favour to win the title, they will want to end the tournament with a convincing win.

The 29-year-old Kriel, a utility back, will also want to be part of the match-day squad in any of the backline positions he can play because time is running out for him to put his hand up for a World Cup spot.

He can slot in as centre or winger if the Boks need him, and can cover the fullback position.

"Of course I am desperate," Kriel said about getting some game time in the Bok jersey.

"I definitely want to play. If you ask any single guy in the squad if they do want to play, the answer will always be yes. If you don't want to play, then there is a big problem.

"(I'm) Very, very keen to play, but it all depends on what we need going into the game. Like Jacques (Nienaber, Bok coach) says certain games require certain skill sets in players and it all depends on what we need for the weekend.

"I've got no idea if I will be playing. The team selection only happens next week. But it's great to be back in South Africa with the Springboks and I am enjoying being back in camp."

According to Kriel, who plays for the Canon Eagles in the Japanese Top League, he had a great season at his club, and it was good having the familiar face of Bok scrumhalf Faf de Klerk join his side recently.

He says playing in a foreign country with a lot less distractions, on and off the field, has made him a better player.

"A lot more of your time goes into rugby. That has been a great thing (for me). I've been there for four years now, and you get a lot more time to work on your game. The Japanese are also extremely hard-working people and their work ethic is really great. Guys help you with extras.

"There is a lot of ball in play (in a match) and you make a lot of tackles. Your catch and pass are a massive focus. All those things make you a better player, and I feel like I've become a better player playing over that side.

"There are a lot of other things, but that is what I've found to be really good. It has been a really good experience (for me) on that side."


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