Cape Town - Springbok centre Jesse Kriel feels he’s a more mature player than a year ago when he made his Test debut against Australia at Brisbane’s Suncorp Stadium.
On that day, the Wallabies scored a last-gasp try to win 24-20.
It was a game the Springboks dominated for large parts, but they were unable to close it out.
A year later, the teams will square off at the same ground on Saturday - and Kriel is back in the No 13 jersey.
This time, he boasts 14 Test caps.
“I feel I’ve got more experience,” he said after being picked ahead of Lionel Mapoe in the Bok starting team on Thursday.
“A few games down the line you have to be better, obviously learning from experiences and things that you’ve seen in the game. I do feel I’ve become a better player and I’ll have to go and show it on the field. No point in just talking it up, you have to go show it.”
Coach Allister Coetzee opted for a new midfield combination, with Juan de Jongh also replacing Damian de Allende at inside centre.
Francois Hougaard will be on the wing in place of the injured Ruan Combrinck.
Kriel said it’s nice playing in a backline with De Jongh and Hougaard.
“Francois and Juan are very vocal players, so they make it a lot easier for me out on the field. They’re good communicators on the field which makes the job on defence and attack a lot easier.”
Regarding his debut Test a year ago, Kriel said: “Yes I do remember, it was on my debut over here so a good memory for me. But that’s in the past now...”
The Boks will be hoping this Saturday’s game ends better than last year’s one...
15 Israel Folau, 14 Dane Haylett-Petty, 13 Samu Kerevi, 12 Bernard Foley, 11 Reece Hodge, 10 Quade Cooper, 9 Will Genia, 8 David Pocock, 7 Michael Hooper, 6 Dean Mumm, 5 Adam Coleman, 4 Kane Douglas, 3 Sekope Kepu, 2 Stephen Moore (captain), 1 Scott Sio
Substitutes (from): 16 Tatafu Polota-Nau, 17 James Slipper, 18 Allan Alaalatoa, 19 Rory Arnold, 20 Lopeti Timani, 21 Sean McMahon, 22 Nick Phipps, 23 Tevita Kuridrani, 24 Drew Mitchell
15 Johan Goosen, 14 Bryan Habana, 13 Jesse Kriel, 12 Juan de Jongh, 11 Francois Hougaard, 10 Elton Jantjies, 9 Faf de Klerk, 8 Warren Whiteley, 7 Oupa Mohoje, 6 Francois Louw, 5 Lood de Jager, 4 Eben Etzebeth, 3 Lourens Adriaanse, 2 Adriaan Strauss (captain), 1 Tendai Mtawarira
Substitutes: 16 Bongi Mbonambi, 17 Steven Kitshoff, 18 Trevor Nyakane, 19 Franco Mostert, 20 Pieter-Steph du Toit, 21 Jaco Kriel, 22 Morne Steyn, 23 Lionel Mapoe