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Wing or centre doesn’t matter to Kriel

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Jesse Kriel says that no matter where he plays, he’s keen to contribute to the Springbok cause. Picture: Gavin Barker, BackpagePix

Springbok Jesse Kriel is confident he will be able to make an impact when he starts Saturday’s Test match against Wales at right wing.

CAPE TOWN – Jesse Kriel may have played at fullback earlier in his career, but he says that will take more confidence out of his preparation than his previous experience when he starts at right wing for the Springboks against Wales on Saturday.

The 27-year-old was a top-class No.15 in his youth, and played there for SA Schools and the SA Under-20 side, but he soon emerged as a superb outside centre for the Bulls and then the Boks.

Now with 48 Test caps to his name, Kriel is undaunted by the prospects of marking classy Wales left wing Josh Adams at the Principality Stadium on Saturday (7.30pm SA time kickoff).

“I watched him (Adams) a lot throughout the (British and Irish) Lions tour. A quality player, and I’ve played against him here in Cardiff a few times. He’s quite a big player for them – brings a lot of energy. But then again, just focusing on what we and I need to get right to contribute to the team,” Kriel said from Cardiff on Wednesday.

“Confidence is something that we build every day throughout training. I don’t get my confidence from previous experiences … I get it from training well and perfect practice every day.

“Coach (Mzwandile) Stick works really hard with all of us outside backs to build confidence throughout the week, every single day, at every training.

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“I’m pretty confident going into the game. Obviously starting my career off at fullback is something that you could look at, but my confidence definitely comes from my preparation every day, and how we go about doing things in our team. So, more than confident going into this game.

“I obviously enjoy playing my rugby at centre, but I love it just as much playing on the wing. So, I just want to do whatever’s best for the team, and be able to deliver wherever it is, and just be on the field. So, very happy for the opportunity on Saturday.”

Apart from keeping Adams in check, Kriel is sure to receive a number of up-and-unders from Wales flyhalf Dan Biggar, but he feels that the Boks will be ready to cope with those high balls as they have practised it in training with assistant coach Mzwandile Stick.

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“I think as outside backs, most of the backs in the team are able to play various positions. So, we’ve got a great focus on aerial skills, and all those kinds of skills,” he said.

“Mzwandile Stick has been doing a great job with all of us outside backs right throughout our campaign, since way before the World Cup, on aerial skills and stuff like that. It’s something we work hard at every day, so I think we are pretty comfortable playing wherever.

“We’ve got guys like Lukhanyo (Am) inside me and Makazole (Mapimpi), who is a great defensive organiser. We take great pride in our defensive system at the Springboks, so organising, being able to control who folds and control who stays and who goes is a big part of our system.

“Being able to communicate throughout the game and tell guys where to go is a big part of our defensive system. So, it’s just being able to be vocal and to make the big defensive reads as a team.”

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