Wonderkid: Jesse Kriel

In the first of our wonderkid articles, we take a look at the South African wizard Jesse Kriel.

By Edward Kerr
8th October 2015
By Edward Kerr
8th October 2015

This summer has been the making of Jesse Kriel, who at 21 years old has announced himself as one of the most potentially gifted players to play for the Springboks in recent years.

Along with his twin brother Dan, he made the move to Pretoria after finishing school to play for the Blue Bulls, making his debut in March 2014. A strong outing in the Bulls 2015 Super Rugby campaign saw him lead South African players in metres made, before being called up to the South Africa squad for the Rugby Championship.

While his preferred position is full-back, South Africa coach Heyneke Meyer sees the youngster as an outside centre, solving what has been a difficult position for the Springboks. The all-round skills that Kriel possesses make him adept at playing at 13; great counter-attacking style, combined with pace, great hands and an unpredictability provide another creative option in the midfield.

Given the retirement of the mighty Jean de Villiers, there is an opening in the South African back line that Jesse Kriel can fill, and being a relatively unknown quantity at international level, will no doubt provide a spark in the midfield during the latter stages of the World Cup. 

Over the summer and in the build up to the World Cup, South Africa had been disappointing, and despite a slip-up in their opening World Cup fixture, their recent matches in Albion have suggested they have turned a corner and established themselves as contenders for the crown. If they are going to continue heading in this direction, the unpredictability of Jesse Kriel could make the difference, and alongside team mate Handré Pollard, South Africa have two young talents that are set to light up world rugby for a decade. Indeed Heyneke Meyer has suggested that Jesse Kriel can push on and become the best outside centre have ever produced, which is high praise indeed.

To date, Kriel has made 7 appearances for South Africa, and given his precocious talent, who would bet against him going on to become a centurion?

The Rugby Magazine

Filed under: Wonderkids, South Africa
Written by: Edward Kerr
Follow: @edwardrkerr · @therugbymag

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