Kriel could be Boks' jack of all trades

2015-06-13 14:27
Jesse Kriel (Gallo Images)

Cape Town - There has been little to enthuse over for South Africa in this year's Super Rugby competition but the emergence of Bulls fullback Jesse Kriel has been a big plus for national coach Heyneke Meyer.

The Springboks have looked thin on options in the No 15 jersey in recent years and an injury to incumbent Willie le Roux would be a major blow ahead of this year's World Cup in England.

But Kriel has been a revelation, his counter-attacking style and innovation with the ball in hand giving him the ability to create points from seemingly innocuous situations.

In a Bulls side which has struggled, he is currently third on the list of most metres gained with ball in hand in Super Rugby this season.

His versatility was shown at the World Rugby Under-20 Championship last year when he formed a centre pairing with twin brother Dan and he can also play on the wing.

"Jesse Kriel has trained with us before but he's really put his hand up this season," Meyer said, adding that he was close to selecting the back last year.

"I don't believe in pecking orders and I believe the best 31 must go to the World Cup."

Meyer has also spoken at length about selecting players for England who can feature in a number of positions and that is another box ticked off for Kriel, who would provide cover in a position troubling Meyer, outside centre.

The 21-year-old, who shares a house with Bok and Bulls flyhalf Handre Pollard, says he has been encouraged over his World Cup chances by Meyer.

"I do enjoy fullback and I'd say it's my preferred position. I enjoy the space one gets. But I also enjoy my time at centre," Kriel told reporters.

"I love making a contribution on attack and having more time with ball in hand. I'll play wherever the team needs me to play."

He can take heart in the case of Frans Steyn, who was a year younger than Kriel, albeit with nine Test caps, when he was thrown into the cauldron of the World Cup in 2007 and ended up with a winner's medal.

Read more on:    bulls  |  springboks  |  super 15  |  jesse kriel  |  pretoria  |  rugby

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