Gloucester have signed Springbok Jaco Kriel, with Johan Ackermann raiding his former club the Lions to sign the flanker who has made 69 Super Rugby appearances
Kriel hasn’t played in Super Rugby this season due to an injury he picked up on international duty last year.
The 1.86m 101kg forward made his debut for South Africa in the June international against Ireland in 2016 and has picked up 11 caps.
Kriel’s move to the Premiership had been rumoured for a number of months, but it was finally confirmed by his club on Monday.
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“Jaco has unfortunately been plagued by injuries stemmed from 2017’s international duty and has therefore not been able to play for the Emirates Lions this season.” Lions CEO Rudolf Straeuli said.
Straeuli expressed concern over yet another player heading to the Northern Hemisphere to ply his trade.
“We are always sad to lose a player but to lose a player of this stature hurts the Franchise and the Industry.”
“We wish Jaco a speedy recovery and rehabilitation and hope to see him applying his trade back in South Africa in the future.”
Lions Rugby Company (Pty) Ltd can confirm Jaco Kriel has committed to a contract with UK based Gloucester.
We wish Jaco a speedy recovery and rehabilitation and hope to see him applying his trade back in South Africa in the future.#LetsUnite pic.twitter.com/DJg8FsQ1gg
— Emirates Lions (@LionsRugbyCo) April 30, 2018
The 28-year-old’s departure will be a blow to new Springboks head coach Rassie Erasmus, who can only select overseas players with over 30 caps, but that does not apply in World Cup years.
Erasmus, named as Allister Coetzee’s successor at the start of March, will take charge of his first match on June 2nd against Wales in Washington DC, followed by a three-test series against England which begins on June 9th in Johannesburg.
Kriel was club captain at the Emirates Lions and, during his time wearing the armband, the backrower lifted the Currie Cup with the Golden Lions team, on top of leading the Lions to back-to-back Super Rugby finals.
— OptaJonny (@OptaJonny) April 30, 2018
Director of Rugby David Humphreys spoke of his excitement in welcoming Kriel to the club.
“Jaco’s record in his career so far speaks for itself, and he is a player that Johan rates very highly. He will understand immediately what Johan expects from his players, and the style of play that we are trying to promote.
“Jaco was one of the leading players for the Lions during their development as a squad, and their drive to two Super Rugby finals, and has also been a real star in the Springbok jersey.
“At the club, we have some really exciting young players, especially in our back row forward area, and Jaco’s arrival will provide us with more world class quality in that position, especially with the pressures put on the squad as we take on Champions Cup rugby next season.
“He has been frustrated to miss out this season with a shoulder injury however, he has already met with all of our backroom team at Hartpury College, and he will be fit and firing come the start of the new season.”
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