Since the beginning of the week, Juandré Kruger is back from the IV Nations played with the South-African national squad. Racing's Second row talks about the last tournament he performed in, his beginning of season with the Ciel et Blanc and the coming HCup match against Clermont. (Credit : Julien Poupart // Attitude Rugby).
You came back from the IV Nations at the beginning of the week, how do you feel?
We had a great championship, it is just a bit disappointing that we lost against the All Blacks. But I think internationally we are on the right track. I’m happy to be back at Racing which is my new club and look forward to play regularly for the team and having a substantial contribution towards this team.
You played a wonderful match last week-end, unfortunately you lost the game. How was it to be on this field?
We were well into the game, we had trouble in defense, but I always believed that we could score tries, unfortunately our opponents’ kept us out of scoring. It was very disappointing losing this game as we had a little chance of winning the championship, which was our team goal. You know, it’s even more disappointing when you work hard to achieve those goals and you don’t manage to reach them. It is the same feeling for the whole squad and staff, everyone did everything correctly, at the end of the day that’s what disappointing. Now it’s finish, it’s time for us to move on. I believe that the team will learn from that and come out stronger next time.
Will it be difficult for you to switch from the Springboks to Racing?
I don’t think so. We are living in professional rugby environment. So, for any team you are playing for, you always need to play at your best, always prepare well and be focused. Every game is different too and I think that your team-mates and coaches have their own way of seeing the game. At the end of the day, you need to be professional as a player and adapts as quickly as possible to any circumstances, the way they are in line outs, the scrums, the play sheets…
Did you take time to follow Racing’s results while you were with the national team?
Yes, every week because we are a couple of players performing in TOP 14 in the South-African squad. Among each other, we talk about our respective teams, see who is playing who… Obviously, the lost match against Grenoble was disappointing but they played good rugby facing up Castres, before they had a good win against Bordeaux. It’s always disappointing to lose, I feel it too because if I would have been part of the team and lose with the team, I would be. The team must put their heads up as we have some big games coming up. We need to prepare well and be at our best.
Would you be ready to play with Racing against Clermont on Sunday?
Yes, I’m always ready to play. But then, it’s not up to me, the coach will decide. And I will support the team and the coaches’ choice whatever selection they will decide. I will always contribute and give my best to hopefully a substantial contribution to the team’s success. I pride myself on specific areas and add value on attacking plays… from line outs, defensive play and putting pressure on that position. So hopefully I could add value to this team as quickly as possible.
What does HCup mean for you?
It’s a great competition, I played it with the Northampton Saints, we moved from the Challenge Cup to the Heineken Cup. In our pool we had Munster, Perpignan and Trevisa and ended up in the quarter finals. It’s an awesome competition, as it gathers the best players in Europe competing with each other. I look forward to play against Clermont as I’ve never before. They are a great team, many other squads respect them. I believe that we will put up a good performance this week-end.
How do you feel about the new scrum rules, here in France?
I think that the call is obviously different but you hopefully get that pretty quick with the language. But you know, I come back from South Africa where they have adapted pretty quickly to the new rules. I could add value to the team in scrumming, even though it isn’t my specific area but we done well with the South-African scrum. We probably need improvement in that area and we will improve that’s for sure. Because it isn’t only the first row that plays a role, it’s also up to the back 5 to bring it as well.
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Saturday 26th August