One of Gloucester’s latest arrivals is 29-year-old Jaco Kriel. The 11-times capped South African flanker missed the last Super Rugby season due to a shoulder injury but is well known to head coach Johan Ackermann from their time together at the Golden Lions. Having only been in the UK for a couple of weeks, he told RugbyPass that the media storm around teammate Danny Cipriani took him by surprise.
“It was actually scary to see it, to be part of it with him being a teammate of ours. Back in South Africa you don’t get that kind of hype in the media about a guy. I actually feel sorry for him because he can put no foot wrong without anybody knowing about it.
“Everybody in life makes mistakes whatever they do. If he wasn’t a professional rugby player, everything would have been fine. The team is there for him, we’re supporting him as much as we can, he’s one of us”, she said.
Kriel commented on his own meeting with the troubled fly-half, “I love Danny, he’s always interesting to chat to. His rugby knowledge is amazing. Every time we have a chat about something, he says we can be amazing at that or amazing at this. I enjoy him as a person and his views on things I enjoy.”
Kriel continues a South African take-over of Gloucester as Ackermann looks to build some solid foundations from which to launch his attack on the top half of the Premiership. While the English top flight is handing him an opportunity, Kriel was asked whether he believes other South African franchises should follow the Cheetahs and the Kings in looking to Europe and the Pro14 to play their rugby.
Kriel said, “Yes definitely, I’m a big supporter of those. I believe it created good opportunities for the Cheetahs and the Kings. Although the Kings didn’t do so well, it’s still good opportunities for the players to be noticed at a high level of rugby.
“I believe in the near future it’ll be the path to go for some of the bigger unions, to make the travelling easier. In Super Rugby, to travel to New Zealand, Australia, Argentina and Japan – as a professional athlete, that just makes it difficult. If you travel here, it’s just an hour time difference and you test yourself on a whole different level of the weather, pitches and rugby, so I believe it’s the way forward. ”
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