South African Jaco Kriel re-joins Lions on three-year deal

LONDON, ENGLAND - AUGUST 23: Jaco Kriel of Gloucester Rugby poses with rainbow laced boots during the Gallagher Premiership Rugby 2018-19 Season Launch at Twickenham Stadium on August 23, 2018 in London, England. Premiership Rugby and title partner Gallagher have announced their support for Rainbow Laces, the campaign run by LGBT charity Stonewall to promote LGBT inclusion in sport (Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images for Gallagher)
FILE PHOTO: Jaco Kriel of Gloucester looks on during the Gallagher Premiership Rugby match between Northampton Saints and Gloucester Rugby at Franklin’s Gardens in Northampton, United Kingdom. (Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)

South African forward Jaco Kriel has re-joined South African Super Rugby club the Lions on a three-year contract from English Premiership side Gloucester Rugby.

Kriel, who joined the English club in 2018, had requested to be released early from his contract with the English club.

Kriel posted a video of himself wearing a Lions jersey on social media on Monday confirming his move.

“It’s really good to be home. I am on my way to the union now to start my new journey and continue with the boys that I love and missed, and I missed all of you (fans) as well. I can’t wait to see you at Emirates Airlines Park in our first home game,” Kriel said.

Gloucester Director of Rugby David Humphreys said that the club was sympathetic to Kriel’s request despite wanting to keep a hold of him.

“I’m personally really sorry to see Jaco leave Gloucester Rugby without him ever really getting the opportunity to show the supporters just how good a player he is. He’s been so unfortunate with injuries, but I’m delighted he’s now got the opportunity to get back playing Super Rugby with the Lions,” Humphreys said.

“Jaco’s ability and leadership qualities, and the standards he set in everything he did at the club, will be missed by everyone but I wish him every success for the rest of his career back in South Africa.”

Kriel had been recovering in South Africa from a knee injury which kept him out of action since November last year. His stint in England had been marred by injuries forcing him to miss several games. Kriel had only made 20 first-team appearances to date, of which five were in this season.

Kriel said that he did not regret joining the club but admitted he was disappointed that he was unable to deliver more on the pitch for the club.

“Gloucester Rugby will always mean a lot to me though, and I genuinely wish them all the very best going forward and will have fond memories of my time as part of the Gloucester family – especially matchdays at Kingsholm, they were special moments,” Kriel said.