1995 World Cup hero Japie Mulder says in-form Jesse Kriel should be considered the Springboks’ first-choice at outside centre after scoring a brace against Wales.
In his 46th start for the Springboks at outside centre, utility back Kriel, who can also play at fullback and wing, scored two tries in a record-breaking victory in Cardiff.
Kriel has spent most of the Rassie Erasmus-era playing second fiddle to Lukhanyo Am. However, with Am suffering a knee injury in the warm-up matches, Kriel will go to the World Cup as South Africa’s only recognised outside centre in their 33-man squad.
In an interview with BokSquad, Mulder, who helped the Springboks win the 1995 World Cup with his hard-hitting defence, waded into the Am vs Kriel debate.
“I don’t think they could have picked a better squad,” Mulder said. “Lukhanyo is a big loss, but he has been struggling with injuries for a couple of seasons and Jesse Kriel has got quite a lot of game time.
“Jesse is a very good player and he may have warranted selection ahead of Lukhanyo anyway, on form.”
Mulder started alongside Hennie le Roux in the 1995 World Cup final against the All Blacks and wrote himself into Springbok lore with a crucial tackle on flying winger Jonah Lomu in the second half of the match.
“It looked like Lomu was gone,” Mulder recalled. “But I decided to give it a full go and thankfully I was able to bring him down, because if I didn’t, I probably would have been the biggest villain in South Africa.”
Photo: Juan Jose Gasparini/Gallo Images