David Kriel ready to fill Gio Aplon's dancing boots
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CAPE TOWN - Just relax, and our rhythm on attack will come through again. That was the word from impressive Bulls youngster David Kriel, who is set to don the No 15 jersey in Saturday’s Super Rugby Unlocked clash against the Sharks in Pretoria.
The Bulls confirmed the worst yesterday for veteran Gio Aplon, who sustained a knee ligament injury in last Friday’s 19-17 loss to the Cheetahs in Bloemfontein.
The 38-year-old Aplon has torn an anterior cruciate ligament, and will have an operation tomorrow before beginning a long road to recovery that could take anything from six to nine months.
While the former Stormers star’s absence is a blow to the Bulls attack, they seem to have uncovered a bright new spark in Kriel, who has shown good composure on attack and defence this season.
A Grey College school protégé, the 21-year-old made his way to the Cape, where he didn’t quite crack the nod at Currie Cup and Super Rugby level.
Bulls director of rugby Jake White, though, recruited the former SA Under-20 player to join his younger brother Richard - “my brother is a better rugby player than me” - in Pretoria, and has been bold in handing David a starting berth at wing.
He had to move to fullback early in the Cheetahs game following Aplon’s injury, and is now keen to make his presence felt against the Sharks.
“First of all, I feel very sorry for Gio and his injury, and I wish him a speedy recovery. But just to think about being the first-choice fullback, it’s very exciting, and it’s not every day as a 21-year-old that you are starting for the Bulls. There’s not a lot of names that have played at this age,” Kriel said via Zoom after Bulls practice yesterday.
“It’s a huge honour and privilege, and I can’t wait to show my worth and just enjoy every second of it.
“With his (Aplon) experience, the whole group will miss his voice on game day. But he still has a big role to play in the team, as he is still present with us and I still learn a lot from him.
“If I do get the opportunity, I would not only like to make myself proud, but also Gio and the team by just playing my game and do what he taught me.”
Kriel, who has a real physical presence at 1.94m and 94kg, has a chance to make a name for himself as he will come up against a Sharks side loaded with Springboks.
His main challenge will be to neutralise the ‘bombs’ from opposing halfbacks Curwin Bosch and Sanele Nohamba, but he also wants to put the visitors under pressure in defence.
The Bulls have battled to regain the rhythm on attack that they displayed in the Super Fan Saturday victory over the Sharks, and Kriel is eager to help his team reach that level again.