Jaco Kriel’s injury hell is almost over with the flanker’s debut for his new club Gloucester drawing closer.
Kriel dislocated his shoulder playing against Australia for the Springboks in the Rugby Championship in September 2017. Two operations followed in what has been a long and torturous process of rehabilitation.
The Springbok has been named on the bench for Gloucester’s Premiership Rugby Cup game with Bristol Bears on Friday night, it’s the first time he’s been included in a matchday squad since his switch from the Lions.
Head of Academy Richard Whiffin is taking charge of the side for the competition: “We’ve had a plan for the three weeks of this competition. Bristol were reasonably strong last week and I would imagine that at home, in front of their home crowd, they’ll put a decent team out.
“For us, it’s an opportunity for the younger guys and the guys coming back in after injury to put their hands up for selection in the Premiership weeks that follow.”
Henry Trinder set to make his 150th competitive appearance for the Cherry and Whites.
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Watch: Jaco Kriel speaks about Gloucester move
In August Kriel admitted to RugbyPass that he signed for Gloucester this season to beat what he predicts will be a flood of players looking for lucrative deals in Europe after next year’s Rugby World Cup in Japan.
Kriel told RugbyPass he believes by moving to England now, he is ahead of the contract game and predicts a deluge of top South Africa talent will follow his lead thanks to the weakness of the country’s Rand against the Pound and the Euro.
The recalls of Sale scrumhalf Faf de Klerk and Wasps fullback Willie le Roux to the Springbok squad from their European clubs is another incentive to move as test careers are no longer halted by signing an overseas contract.
The 11 times capped former Lions backrow forward said: “I looked at whole situation and my own career and made the decision to come before the World Cup because I believe that after the Cup tournament in Japan everybody is going to want to come to the UK or France.
“The market will be flooded and you will be competing against New Zealand, Australian and also players from the Pacific Islands for contracts. I got the opportunity to come now and I took it.
“You are playing professional rugby for the love of the game and also to ensure you can look after yourself when you retire from rugby. At the moment the Rand cannot compete with the Pound and that is a huge factor and if they are interested then a player will get in touch with his agent. It remains a personal preference where you want to play your rugby and if there is family you don’t want to leave is another factor in your decision making.
“The quality is improving all the time in England and teams want to play an attractive style of rugby and that is helping players make their decision and if you look at the Boks test series with England in June then Faf and Willie were the stand-out players.
“The fact that Faf and Willie have been able to play in England and come back to play for the Springbok is not a good message for South Africa because it shows that you can come here, have great fun, enjoy your rugby and still play test rugby. It means the last hold that teams backs home in South Africa, who want to keep their best players, had was the fact they couldn’t continue playing for the Boks.
“Now that rule has gone I really believe the guys wants to come over to Europe because everyone who comes here then, when they go back, talks about how amazing it is – except for the weather!
“If you look at the quality of the players in the Premiership then you can see there won’t be any easy games. You need a squad that ensures you are competitive in every game to keep you up there. To be able to be competitive in the Premiership and also the European competitions you need to have enough players for two teams.”
15. Tom Hudson; 14. Henry Purdy, 13. Henry Trinder, 12. Tom Seabrook, 11. Ollie Thorley; 10. Owen Williams, 9. Ben Vellacott (capt); 1. Kyle Traynor, 2. Joe Mullis, 3. Ciaran Knight; 4. Alex Craig, 5. Gerbrandt Grobler; 6. Cameron Terry, 7. Aaron Hinkley, 8. Gareth Evans
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