Springboks

Meyer: Kriel can be SA’s best ever centre

2015-07-08 15:39
Jesse Kriel (Gallo Images)

Cape Town - Springbok head coach Heyneke Meyer believes Jesse Kriel has the potential to be the best outside centre South Africa has ever produced.

Kriel has been a top performer at fullback for the Bulls during Super Rugby this season, showing great threat with ball in hand on attack, while his efforts under the high ball and on defence has been solid.

This form was rewarded with an official call-up to the Springbok squad.

There’s more good news for the 21-year-old as he was named in the starting line-up for the Springboks’ match against the World XV at Newlands on Saturday.

The speedster will start at outside centre, a position he has played before at various levels - from schoolboy to SA Under-20s.

Meyer believes he can be a huge talent in the No 13 jersey.

“I’ve worked with Jesse before as a junior and I played a part in him joining the Bulls after school,” Meyer told MyPlayers.co.za.

“He is a young player with a massive amount of talent, while he also has the willingness to learn. I’ve decided to run him at outside centre, where I believe he can add a lot of value.

“He has great speed and his acceleration off the mark can be a big threat on attack. He has the potential to be the best outside centre South Africa has ever produced.

“It will be a good challenge for him, Damian de Allende (inside centre) and Handre Pollard (flyhalf). These three young players have been in great form during Super Rugby, but they haven’t played as a combination before.

“I know on attack, they should be able to make a great impact, but on defence, they will need to focus and put in a big effort, especially against an experienced and exciting World XV game.”

Meyer added that Kriel can still add value as a fullback and wing.

“Jesse offers some versatility. He can still play a role at fullback. I’m thinking of giving him some time in the position towards the end of the match against the World XV. We will see if the opportunity arises. I also believe he can add value at wing,” said Meyer.

In an interview earlier this year, Kriel said he would play in any position needed.

“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. 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,” said Kriel.

Teams:

Springboks

15 Willie le Roux, 14 JP Pietersen, 13 Jesse Kriel, 12 Damian de Allende, 11 Bryan Habana, 10 Handre Pollard, 9 Ruan Pienaar, 8 Warren Whiteley, 7 Marcell Coetzee, 6 Francois Louw, 5 Victor Matfield (captain), 4 Eben Etzebeth, 3 Jannie du Plessis, 2 Bismarck du Plessis, 1 Tendai Mtawarira

Substitutes: 16 Adriaan Strauss, 17 Trevor Nyakane, 18 Vincent Koch, 19 Oupa Mohoje, 20 Schalk Burger, 21 Cobus Reinach, 22 Pat Lambie, 23 Jean de Villiers

World XV

TBA

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