Kriel looking for a chance to make debut in cup
JACO Kriel is nearing a return from injury and could make his Gloucester debut in the Premiership Rugby Cup over the coming weeks.
The South Africa international flanker is yet to play for the club after having two operations on his shoulder before joining from the Lions.
Kriel is taking part in some sections of training and it is hoped he will feature for Gloucester before the Premiership resumes in mid-november with three weeks of the new cup competition, replacing the Anglo-welsh Cup, ahead.
“He’s been out there doing bits and bobs training wise,” said Gloucester head of academy Richard Whiffin, who is leading the side this week ahead of their Pool 3 fixture at home to Wasps.
“He’s not reintegrated fully into the training session but he’s looking fit, he’s looking healthy and it’s just a matter of when the medics clear him for full training and games. He won’t be far away.”
Other senior players who are yet to play this season could also get some game time under their belts before the next Premiership game against Leicester on November 16.
Wingers Ollie Thorley and Henry Purdy returned to full training last week, while it is hoped club captain Willi Heinz will be ready for the next block of Premiership fixtures.
“It’s a perfect opportunity for that,” said Whiffin.
“Over the three weeks guys will get dripped back in and let’s not beat around the bush, we want to have a good crack in this competition and it’s a good opportunity for those younger guys, but as well we want to make sure we’re prepared for that first Premiership game back after this block.”
Most of the senior squad who have been heavily involved during a gruelling first eight weeks of the season have been given some time off to rest.
The fact Whiffin has effectively been placed in charge for the next threeweek period with games against Wasps, Northampton and Bristol is a clear indication a number of youngsters will be given an opportunity.
“There are a fair few senior guys at the moment on a down week so from the group that we get given we’ve got licence to pick and tweak the team as we see fit,” said Whiffin.
“It will all come from a framework, the team and club want to play a certain way and we’ll stick to that, but each coach has his own little tweaks and niches and there will certainly be little things that myself and the coaching team think they can bring the team.
“From our point of view we certainly see it as a massive development tool and an opportunity for our younger lads to get the shirt on and get in front of that Kingsholm crowd.”
Gloucester captain Willi Heinz with the Champions Cup as he works his way to fitness