Another Lions Bok returns home
TRANSFER NEWS: It has been confirmed. Jaco Kriel is back at Ellis Park.
The Lions confirmed in social media posts on Monday morning that Kriel has returned from a stint at Gloucester and signed a three-year deal with the Johannesburg-based franchise.
Confirmation of his return ‘home’ follows the recent signings of veteran Springboks Jannie du Plessis and Willem Alberts – a timely boost after the team’s embarrassing 8-38 loss to the Jaguares in their season-opening fixture in Buenos Aires at the weekend.
However, he won’t feature in Lions the team before March or April, as he is currently recovering from an ankle injury he suffered while playing for Gloucester in the European Cup.
Kriel, 30, has 11 Test caps for the Boks – to go with his more than 100 outings for the Lions (Super Rugby and Currie Cup).
He will bring real leadership qualities to the Lions squad, whom he captained before his departure.
He joined former Lions coach Johan Ackermann at Gloucester in 2018 and has featured in 20 matches for the Premiership club.
This season he made five appearances in the Premiership and European Cup – the last of those against Montpellier on November 24.
He suffered an ankle injury in that game.
The hard-working flank has had a long history of injuries. Kriel dislocated his shoulder playing for the Boks against Australia in the Rugby Championship in September 2017.
He eventually made his Gloucester debut in November 2018.
Kriel said he enjoyed his time at Gloucester.
“I have genuinely loved it here,” the loose forward said.
“It’s an outstanding club with outstanding people and, despite the injuries, I don’t regret a moment of it. I’m just sorry that I couldn’t deliver more out there on the pitch.
“Gloucester will always mean a lot to me though, and I genuinely wish them all the very best going forwards and will have fond memories of my time as part of the Gloucester family – especially matchdays at Kingsholm, they were special moments.
“Thank you for making me so welcome – I will always appreciate that.”
Gloucester Director of Rugby David Humphreys confirmed that Kriel’s request to be released early from his contract had been agreed with a heavy heart.
“It’s a real shame,” Humphreys said, adding: “But Jaco has personal reasons for wanting to return home and, although we very much want him to stay, we are sympathetic to his request. We are fortunate that the back row is a position of strength for us.
“I’m personally really sorry to see Jaco leave Gloucester Rugby without him ever really getting the opportunity to show the supporters just how good a player he is. He’s been so unfortunate with injuries, but I’m delighted he’s now got the opportunity to get back playing Super Rugby with the Lions.
“Jaco’s ability and leadership qualities, and the standards he set in everything he did at the club, will be missed by everyone but I wish him every success for the rest of his career back in South Africa.”
* Meanwhile the Lions confirmed that scrumhalf Andre Warner suffered a sprained ankle in the loss to the Jaguares. He will undergo a sonar scan upon the team’s return from Buenos Aires on Monday.
Centre Dan Kriel suffered a forehead laceration. However, that will not prevent him from facing the Reds in a Round Two match at Ellis Park this coming Saturday.
Springbok scrumhalf Ross Cronje has returned to full training and he will be assessed during the week to see if he is available for selection.