The Offload chats to... Jesse Kriel

September 29, 2017

After the disappointment of 2016, it’s been a resurgent year for the men in green and gold, having won five of their seven Tests so far in 2017.

With Jesse Kriel’s pace and power, he has been at the forefront of the resurrection and seems to be thriving in the Springboks newfound running style of rugby. We recently caught up with the elusive centre to chat about the teams change in fortunes, getting the fans back onside and ‘that’ photo with Sonny Bill Williams. Here’s what he had to say…

After a disappointing year in 2016, the Springboks started 2017 with a bang. What has changed in the squad in such a short amount of time?

There has been a big emphasis on re-visiting team culture and getting a strong bond amongst the squad, which I think has been the biggest difference.

Are you enjoying the more expansive game that the Boks are now playing?

Absolutely! I think this is the way rugby is moving and I know the boys are really enjoying getting the ball in their hands more and scoring tries.

It was clear that the players were disappointed after the loss to New Zealand. How do you pick yourselves up from a loss like that?

We have a 24-hour period where we deal with a win or loss and after that, we focus on the next job and start following our weekly processes.

“We want to play well at home and inspire our nation.”

The Boks have two games left in the Rugby Championship, both at home. What can we expect from you guys in the remainder of the competition?

We obviously want to play well at home and inspire our nation. We will look to go out there and play some more rugby and end the championship on a high.

The PRO12 became the PRO14 for the 2017/18 season. What were your thoughts on the two South African teams joining the European competition?

It’s great for the two teams as they (South African players) are exposed to different conditions, cities and rugby. I truly believe it can help us as a country going forward, especially when we play against the Northern Hemisphere teams.

Many consider the English Premiership to be the toughest rugby competition in the world. Has the thought ever crossed your mind to give it a go?

I watch a lot of the Premiership as a few good mates of mine play in the competition and they all only have great things to say about it, both on and off the field. It has definitely crossed my mind to give it a go, but at the moment I am enjoying rugby in South Africa and still have a few things I want to do here as a player.

The picture of Sonny Bill Williams consoling you after the RWC2015 semi-final has become one of the most iconic pictures in the sport. Do you guys try to chat after playing against each other?

Yes, we caught up after the game in Albany and had a great chat. I believe this is what makes rugby such a special sport.

“…this is what makes rugby such a special sport.”

What do you do to relax and get away from the game?

I like to get away with family or friends, be it the beach or fishing or just being in their company.

Who is the toughest competitor you’ve come up against on a rugby pitch and why?

Ma’a Nonu for sure. He has the skills to be an all-round threat on the field.

What do you look for when you’re choosing a new pair of boots?

The important thing for me is that the boots have to be unique in design or colour. They also must be light as well as supportive.

You’re currently in the PUMA One. How are you finding them?

They’re great! I’m really enjoying the built-in sock, it gives you a perfect fit.

What advice would you give to any aspiring young players?

Competing at the highest level requires sacrifices. When working hard, doing the right thing comes naturally without feeling like a sacrifice or a burden and you start to enjoy working hard. It’s then that you realise that you’re on the right track.

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