Kriel to silence his critics
INTERVIEW: Jesse Kriel is not everybody's cup of tea as the Springbok outside centre, but he is determined to prove his detractors wrong.
Kriel, who was recalled to a revamped South African midfield for the Rugby Championship Round Three showdown with the Wallabies on Saturday, is regarded by some pundits as more suited to being a fullback.
However, he feels that with his "vocal" centre partner Juan de Jongh he can show he deserves more opportunities in the Bok No.13 jersey.
Kriel made his Springbok debut against the Wallabies in Brisbane last year, after then Bok coach Heyneke Meyer moved him to the midfield - even though he played for the South Africa Under-20 side at fullback the year before.
Despite scoring a try on debut, it wasn't the most memorable match, as the Boks lost 20-24 to a Wallaby team that went on to claim the Rugby Championship.
Kriel told a media fathering that he will be looking to add to his three Test tries.
After starting in 10 of last year's 11 Tests (nine at outside centre and one on the wing), Kiel has played off the bench in three of the Boks' five internationals this year. He did not feature at all in the other two.
He believes that the 2016 version is better equipped to deal with the rigours of Test rugby.
"I have more experience," Kriel said, adding: "A few games down the line you have to have learnt from those outings and have become a better player.
"However, I will have to go show that on the field.
"There's no point in talking about it [how good I am], I have to show it."
He believes the revamped Bok backline will be up for the challenge, despite being a combination that has never played together before at any level of the game.
"[Wing] Francois [Hougaard] and [inside centre] Juan [de Jongh] are very vocal players," Kriel said, adding: "They will make it a lot easier for me on attack and defence.
"What is more important is that we focus on what we must do and get our game right."
Asked about bruising Wallaby centre Samu Kerevi, his direct opponent, Kriel admitted he will have his work cut out for him.
"He is a great player and deserves his place [in the Wallaby starting XV].
"He had a really good Super Rugby campaign. He is one of their main ball carriers and they will definitely look to get the ball to him, but it won't change what we will do."