Not so silky but reliable Kriel backed to fly for Boks against All Blacks: 'He's done the job at wing'

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  • Springbok assistant coach Mzwandile Stick explained the reasons they went with Jesse Kriel at right wing against the All Blacks on Saturday.
  • Stick said they considered Warrick Gelant but went with 52 Test-capped Kriel for his experience and know-how.
  • Kriel will be in a direct duel with fearsome New Zealander Caleb Clarke at Ellis Park come kick-off.

The Springboks have cashed in all their chips on Jesse Kriel at right wing, believing he has the goods to quell New Zealander Caleb Clarke come kick-off on Saturday.

Kriel stepped into the position following Kurt-Lee Arendse's four-match suspension after taking down All Black Beauden Barrett in mid-air in Mbombela last weekend.

With Cheslin Kolbe also out with a facial injury, Kriel and Warrick Gelant were both considered as replacements for the second Rugby Championship matchup at Ellis Park.

READ | Boks invoke 1995 Ellis Park spirit for All Blacks: 'I used to call myself the township Stransky'

But the former Bulls back, Kriel, who played predominantly at outside centre but has done a job at fullback, too, won the coaches' favour due to experience.

"I'm happy Jesse's getting a chance to play because he works very hard and he's in a tight battle for the No 13 shirt with Lukhanyo Am, which is the kind of competition we want," said Bok assistant coach Mzwandile Stick.

"Jesse has done this job for us for a long time at wing, whenever we needed him due to injuries.

"As coaches, we did come together and discuss it because there are players like Warrick Gelant, who we also felt could have done the job.

"But because we know Jesse has done the job there before – if you remember, even at the last end-of-year tour, Jesse played wing the whole time – he will bring his experience and knowledge of our system and what we want to do.

"Yes, he is not the same as guys like Cheslin Kolbe and Kurt-Lee Arendse, who are slippery customers, but we know he can produce.

"He'll be up against a hard man (Clarke) but he's as physical as well, so I don't think he'll have a problem standing in at wing."

The Springbok men's match begins at 17:05, while Springbok Women against Spain will roll out the red carpet at 13:00 kick-off.

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