“If you’re a rugby player in South Africa those goals will never go away.”
At 30 years of age Jaco Kriel may very much be a senior in the Lions team, but he is young enough to still fulfil his ambition of being a regular Springbok player.
Kriel has returned to the Lions after two years playing for Gloucester (where he only played 20 games because of a spate of injuries) and hopes to again be able to pull on the green and gold jersey in years to come. Between 2016 and 2017 he made 11 appearances for the Boks, but said yesterday that he wanted more.
“I’ve definitely got Bok ambitions,” said Kriel. “If you’re a rugby player in South Africa those goals will never go away.”
He is currently recovering from ankle surgery, done in December, and is likely to only play for the Lions in March or April.
“I have to take it easy at the moment because the injury is a fragile one,” said the powerful flank. “I’ve started running on a special treadmill, but I’ve got to be careful.”
He said things had changed a bit in the Lions team since he was last a part of it.
“There are a lot of new guys in the mix, but I do know most of them, having worked with them when they were in the junior ranks here at the union. The DNA of the Lions though hasn’t changed everyone still works hard, never gives up and makes sure the effort can never be faulted,” Kriel said.
“I just want to get going again and if the Lions feel I’m the right candidate to lead the side I’d be happy to, but I don’t want it to be forced on me. I still have to earn it … and earn the respect of the players,” said Kriel.
After suffering a first-round defeat to the Jaguares in Buenos Aires last weekend, the Lions are next up against the Reds at Ellis Park on Saturday.