Kriel excited to take on Sunwolves
Pretoria - If there is one player excited about this weekend’s Vodacom Bulls game against the Sunwoves, it is Springbok Jesse Kriel.
Kriel makes the move back to the position he became a Springbok in at fullback, and is relishing the opportunity to finally get a bit more ball in hand when he takes the field on Saturday.
It has been a frustrating season for Kriel, as he hasn’t always had the ball in space as he would have liked when the Bulls were under pressure, and he has had to adapt to changes in both game plan and his own outlook, being marked tighter by opposition over the length of the season.
The downside has been that he lost his Bok starting role to Lionel Mapoe, the latter who has been exceptional all season for the Lions and deserved his spot in the starting line-up.
For now, though, Kriel wants to touch the ball a lot more, and in doing so, help his side with their final push to slip into the playoffs if they still can, even though it is mostly out of their hands.
“I’m very happy, I haven’t played there for a while so I’m really excited. I’ve trained well at 15,” he told Supersport.com.
“Ja I think I will get a lot more ball in hand, and get a bit more ball in space which I haven’t had over the last few weeks and which has been frustrating, not being able to play my game and being able to run and things like that. It has been frustrating, but I just want the team to do well.
“Hopefully the forwards can put up a big performance this weekend, we have Adriaan (Strauss, captain) back and he makes a big difference, and if he takes control it will be good. I expect Renaldo (Bothma) also to do well and then the rest of the guys will fall in. It will be a good challenge, especially with the body height, the leg chop and other things, that brings a different challenge.”
Kriel believes the Bulls need to strike early to put the Japanese side away if they are to achieve their aim of taking the bonus point as well as the win on offer.
“You have to, especially playing in Japan you realise if you put guys away early then they are out of it but if you give them that hope, they are in the game,” he explains.
While he misses his partnership in the midfield with Damian de Allende, Kriel is keen to ensure he regains the form that made him a Bok, but hinted he wouldn’t mind if he and De Allende were reunited as a combination at some point.
“Playing with Damian was awesome, he is a world-class player. He is one of my best mates and I spend most of my time with him at the Boks, and that makes it much easier.
“If you look at guys like Jean de Villiers and Jaque Fourie – their partnership – they were at the same union and it would be great if we could play more as a combination. I miss playing with a guy like that.”
Kriel is excited again to be playing at 15, and the Bulls will be hoping that filters through to his play. Whatever happens in other parts of the competition, they need him to fire this weekend at 15 again to regain the confidence that was lost.