Jesse Kriel (Gallo Images)
Cape Town - In the 2014 IRB Junior World Championship final in Auckland, the Baby Boks lost 21-20 to England in a heart-breaking game of rugby.
But a look back at the scorers that day tells the story of two future stars for the Springboks - Jesse Kriel and Handre Pollard.
That partnership was responsible for all 20 points - 10 apiece - as Kriel scored two tries and Pollard landed two conversions and two penalties with the boot.
Now the Kriel/Pollard partnership is set to take on the best in the world at the Rugby World Cup in England.
While Pollard is not in the Springbok side for this weekend’s tournament opener against Japan, he is expected to get his chance soon while Kriel looks to be coach Heyneke Meyer’s first-choice at outside centre, where he played in last year’s final.
And while they have played together at junior, Super Rugby and international level, Kriel and Pollard are good mates off the field too ... so much so that they share a house in Pretoria.
Kriel lives with his twin brother Dan and Pollard in Pretoria.
“We are great friends and there is always a great vibe in the house,” Kriel told sponsors Puma.
“We enjoy each other’s company and try to have as much fun as possible ... we have no rules in the house luckily.”
Kriel joined the national side later than Pollard, and did enough with what little time he had to barge his way into the World Cup mix.
“Yes it was a target of mine and the next step you take after the Junior Boks,” said Kriel, who added that locking horns with the greats in the game was what he was most looking forward to at the tournament.
“The fact that you are playing against the best players from every country and that you can become the best in the world ... I just try to stay in the moment and enjoy it as much as I can.”
Kick-off on Saturday is at 17:45.