PRETORIA - Springbok centre Jesse Kriel knows all about what it takes to cut the Wallabies to shreds. It was two years ago on his international debut that Kriel made his name known to the rugby world with an individual try that almost earned the Springboks victory in Brisbane.
Fast forward two years and Kriel has struggled to replicate the form that cemented his place in the Springbok team, but in recent Tests against France and Argentina, he has shown glimpses of the form that made the Wallabies and All Blacks quiver in their boots every time they saw his name on the team sheet.
But much of Kriel’s return to form has been because of the Springboks' collective efforts to become a force again in world rugby and instead of grabbing the headlines, Kriel is determined to do the hard work behind the scenes that will be beneficial to the rest of the team.
As potent as Kriel is with ball in hand and his love for scoring tries, the Bulls utility back has become comfortable as the provider of tries and like the rest of his teammates, thrives on making the best of opposition errors, as was the case in the Tests against France and Argentina.
Kriel has been at the heart of a lot of the Springboks' tries this season and says he has finally found his place and purpose in the side doing the unseen bits that have led to the team’s resurgence.
“I am never satisfied, you always want to get better, but for me it is not about scoring the tries but more a thing that Brendan Venter has brought in is working hard,” Kriel said.
"Not a lot of people have noticed how we chase now and guys running eight to nine kilometres a game, not allowing the quick throw-ins, getting up in the line and forcing them to kick earlier; small things like that is what people don’t understand.
"That is what brings satisfaction to me, working hard and the unseen efforts is the rewarding stuff."
And this is how Kriel believes the Springboks will be able to beat the Wallabies in Perth on Saturday, by doing the hard graft that will ensure their simple plan of dominance in the set-piece, the backs running with freedom and capitalising from the opposition’s mistakes will hand them the result they desire.
The Boks' plan going into the Perth Test will be no different to what they've done in their five Tests this year, but what will be important is them showing growth and improvement from how they have been able to put France and Argentina to the sword.
“We just have to step up our game like we’ve been doing every week and getting better in the areas that we focus on," Kriel said. "We must play to our strengths and not fall into the traps of other teams and doing what they want us to do.
"We must do what we want to do and being technically better. The coaches will bring a good plan and with everyone buying into that plan, that is what is going to give us a result at the end of the day.”
But Kriel also understands things won’t just fall into place, especially against a formidable Wallabies side who have made as greater strides as the Springboks in picking themselves up from the same mediocrity the South Africans found themselves in last year.
As much as Kriel is relishing the challenge the team will face, he is particularly aware of the danger Wallabies centre Kurtley Beale and scrumhalf Will Genia will pose considering their hand in aiding their side to a near victory in Dunedin against the All Blacks two weeks ago.
“Those are the world class players and you can see the difference they have made to the team. Those are the guys that will make you plan differently and those are the kind of challenges you want; you want to play against the best.”
“I think everyone goes through those dips and it makes it better for that comeback. I think they are also on their way up and it makes the Championship that much more competitive and better to watch for the fans. We can’t wait to go out there and showcase everyone what we have.”