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Bok Kriel poised for return from injury for play-off push in Japan

By Josh Raisey
Jesse Kriel of South Africa celebrates following the team’s victory during the Rugby World Cup Final match between New Zealand and South Africa at Stade de France on October 28, 2023 in Paris, France. (Photo by Julian Finney - World Rugby/World Rugby via Getty Images)

South Africa centre Jesse Kriel is set to make a timely return to action on Saturday as his Yokohama Canon Eagles take on the Mitsubishi Sagamihara Dynaboars is Japan Rugby League One.

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The double World Cup winner has been out of action since January after undergoing an operation on his thumb, but will return for the final three matches of the regular season. He will start on the bench at the Prince Chichibu Memorial Rugby Ground.

The Canon Eagles currently sit in fourth place in the league, which is sufficient to reach the semi-finals in May.

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However, with a clash with the unbeaten league leaders the Saitama Wild Knights still to come for the Canon Eagles, it means positive results are all the more necessary in Saturday’s encounter with the ninth-place Dynoboars and the sixth-place Toyota Verblitz the week after.

Fortunately for a team chasing a top-four berth, being able to add a 68-cap Springbok to the matchday squad is a handy addition.

Kriel vowed to recover as fast as possible after his operation, and he has now returned to have a major say in the outcome of his side’s season.

This is also a boost for South Africa, with a series with Ireland looming in July. Kriel will be fully fit by the time the Springboks host the world number twos.

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Canon Eagles XV
1. Changho Ahn
2. Shunta Nakamura
3. Ryosuke Iwaihara
4. Liakimatagi Moli
5. Matthew Philip
6. Kobus van Dyk
7. Naoto Shimada
8. Amanaki Leleimafi
9. Kouki Arai
10. Yu Tamura
11. Masayoshi Takezawa
12. Yusuke Kajimura (C)
13. Rohan Janse van Rensburg
14. Viliame Takayawa
15. Junpei Ogura

Replacements
16. Yusuke Niwai
17. Takato Okabe
18. Tatsuro Sugimoto
19. Mitchell Brown
20. Sione Halasili
21. Toshiki Amano
22. Jesse Kriel
23. Inoke Burua

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