Jesse Kriel says the prospect of shifting to the wing is one that excites him ahead of Saturday’s Test against the All Blacks in Wellington.
The regular outside centre has previously started just one Test on the wing – back in 2015 – and has been asked to fill in once again out wide following an injury to Makazole Mapimpi.
Although it’s a relatively unfamiliar position, Kriel said he was looking forward to testing himself in a new role that will see him line up opposite All Blacks dangerman Rieko Ioane.
‘I’m really excited actually, I have played on the wing before, although obviously not as much as centre. You want to be up against the best, and Rieko is a world-class player, which is what Test rugby is all about.
‘He’s played a bit of centre in Super Rugby, so he’s got the complete skill set. He’s dangerous with ball in hand and is a quality strike runner. I’m excited about this match-up, but we just want to focus on ourselves and getting things right, and converting our opportunities. If we had done that in the last two games then the results could have been quite different.’
In an All Blacks team filled with stars, Kriel acknowledged that Damian McKenzie was the sort of impact player they would also need to keep a close eye on when he came off the bench.
‘Obviously, he’s an exciting player with ball in hand, he likes to take the ball to the line and brings a lot of tempo to the game. He opens up a lot of space for others as well, so we will have to back our defensive system and put pressure on him.
‘Having said that, we’ve got a guy like Cheslin [Kolbe], who is just as dangerous as him. So both teams have got great guys coming off the bench.’
Photo: Jono Searle/Getty Images