VIDEO: Kriel addresses concerns over readiness for B&I Lions series
SPOTLIGHT: Jesse Kriel believes the Top League is just as intense and physical as any other top rugby competition around the world.
With the physicality always being the topic of discussion surrounding rugby in Japan, the Bok centre, who plays for Canon Eagles, was asked whether he will be ready for the rigours of Test-match rugby
“I think we certainly got a taste of that intensity this week [in the Bloemfontein training camp],” said Kriel.
“A lot of people question the physicality and stuff like that, but I think there are a lot of foreign players playing over there that are quite physical.
“I think 99 percent of people don’t know about all the Tongans and other [Pacific] island boys running around there.
“They are not small. I think there is a bit of physicality over there.
“The tempo is obviously quite quick, but I don’t think any competition gets to the Test match intensity.
“That is something we will obviously work on through the next couple of weeks and hopefully we get as close as possible to a Test match.”
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Kriel, who is one of five Japan-based Boks in Jacques Nienaber’s 46-man squad, is relishing the opportunity of facing the British and Irish Lions in the upcoming series.
Kriel’s great-grandfather John Hodgson – a loose forward who played his English club rugby for Northumbrian side Northern – featured in the British & Irish Lions’ 6-3 victory over New Zealand in Dunedin and the 10-15 loss to the All Blacks in Auckland in 1930.
The Gosforth-born flank made 15 appearances for the British & Irish Lions, scoring nine points. He also represented England between 1932 and 1936, earning seven caps, including being part of the England team who played against the 1932 Springboks in London on January 2, 1932.
“My great grandfather played for the Lions, so this is quite a personal one for me and it is special to be involved,” said Kriel.
“Going back to 2009, I was still at school then and I obviously have some great memories of that Jaque Fourie try and Morné Steyn kicking that penalty over [in the second Test to clinch the series].
“So it is very special, and as Jacques [Nienaber – Springbok coach] mentioned, this opportunity probably comes around once in a player’s career, so I think everyone is going to try to make the most of the chance.”
Additional source: SA Rugby