Jesse Kriel (Gallo Images)
Guildford – South Africa’s Jesse Kriel has said a desire to see out several senior Springboks in style will motivate the side when they face Argentina in the World Cup third-place playoff.
After the disappointment of last week’s 20-18 semi-final loss to defending champions New Zealand at Twickenham, dejected Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer said of Friday’s match against the Pumas at London’s Olympic Stadium: “Mentally, it’s very tough. It does not mean anything to me. It is like kissing your sister.”
But the bronze medal match could possibly mark the end of the line, in Test terms, for the 2007 World Cup-winning trio of Fourie du Preez, Schalk Burger and Victor Matfield.
This year saw Argentina beat South Africa for the first time, with a 37-25 win in Durban in August.
But the 21-year-old Kriel, speaking at the Springboks’ hotel in Guildford, southwest of London, on Tuesday, said: “I don’t really think we’ll be looking to that for motivation. I think this loss last weekend will give us enough motivation.
“I think another big motivating factor will be that for some of the older players, it will probably be their last game for the Boks so we will want to play for their respect and how much they mean to South Africa and send them off on a big note,” he added.
Kriel, all of whose 10 caps have come this year, said Argentina – beaten 29-15 by Australia in the semi-finals – would provide the Springboks with a stern test.
“They throw the ball around a bit, they are a passionate side, they chop legs, so the breakdown will be a big challenge on Friday. But we will definitely be up for it.”
It was hard to imagine Kriel being up for anything much when, after a colossal physical effort against the All Blacks, he slumped down by the posts in exhausted despair when the full-time whistle blew at Twickenham on Saturday.
However, he then found himself being consoled by New Zealand back Sonny Bill Williams, who was widely praised for his sportsmanship.
“I can’t remember what he actually said,” recalled Kriel before adding: “He said ‘don’t worry it’s going to be okay and he just helped me up and that was nice of him. It also shows the kind of player and person he is.
“I think that picture also shows what rugby is all about, so it was great of him to do that.”