It might have been the worst kept secret but it is over now. The Bulls have confirmed that Maritzburg College’s uber-talented twin brothers, Jesse and Daniel Kriel have signed with the Pretoria based outfit and will represent their junior team from 2013 onwards.
It seems like the Bulls scouts identified the Kriels fairly early on in their careers and made an initial approach while they were still at under-16 level.
The Sharks seem to be finding very difficult to hold onto talented local players these days. Another player that really stood out in 2011, Glenwood’s Carel Swart is also believed to be on his way north after school, where he will link up with numerous school teammates including Shaun Adendorff who was recently shortlisted for the JWC under-20 player of the year.
A few years ago, Heyneke Meyer along with head scout Xander Janse van Rensburg put into action a plan backed by a hefty budget and in co-ordination with the University of Pretoria (Tuks) that has since seen the Bulls contract many, perhaps too many for comfort, of the star schoolboy players from around the country.
This year’s prize signing has been Handre Pollard from under the noses of Western Province. They however also acquired the services of talented Queens College flyhalf Josh Stander and had an option on 2011 SA School’s pivot Jaco van der Walt, which they are believed to have since relinquished. There are similar instances of this “overstocking” in just about every position. Jesse Kriel will himself have to battle it out with the flashy Garsfontein fullback Jaco Hayward for a starting spot in 2013.
One cannot help but wonder if the Bulls actions are good for SA rugby in the long run. Perhaps the bottlenecks in the Bulls system will eventually result in player discontent and departure, thus restoring the balance in SA rugby. Another view is that because SA has an abundance of talent, opportunities which might not otherwise have come about, will now be made available to other young lesser known players at unions like the Sharks. Marcell Coetzee is a good example of this, having been a SBR player off the radar in 2009 and now a Springbok just two and a half years out of school. One thing is sure though, the Sharks recruitment methods, which to a certain extent has relied on the appeal of the Sharks Academy and the coastal lifestyle has become outdated and is in desperate need of a revamp.