Lions flank Jaco Kriel has been hesitant to confirm himself as the team’s captain going forward, despite permanent captain Burger Odendaal having signed with English club Wasps from next season.
Earlier this week it was confirmed that Odendaal had signed a contract with the England Premiership team and would leave at the end of the current United Rugby Championship campaign.
At the beginning of the month, Odendaal suffered a concussion in a game against the Bulls at Ellis Park and had to sit out the return match at Loftus, with Kriel taking over the captaincy.
However, on his return to the side against the Stormers two weeks ago and with him starting again against Leinster this weekend, Odendaal has not been reinstated as captain, with Kriel moving on and taking on a vice-captain role.
Despite this indicating that the Lions had decided that Kriel would take over as captain for the remainder of the season and possibly beyond, the veteran loose striker seemed unenthusiastic about the long-term role when asked about it ahead of the game in Leinster.
“It’s probably up to the coaches whether I’m captain for the rest of the season or not. One thing Warren Whiteley always told me was that we needed to focus on the game first and the leadership was going to be easy throughout the game.” Kriel admitted.
“It’s never nice to lose a senior player, especially Burger. The boys have a lot of respect for him, he plays well, has a lot of influence in the team and for a union, especially where we are now, his leadership is gold.
“At the moment he is still kicking off on the pitch and still doing his role as captain, which is good. We have to share the responsibility there. Until the end of the season he will be with us in full and will give him everything because that’s the kind of man he is and after that we’ll judge.”
Kriel then hinted that one of the younger players or another senior might pick up the mantle, while also admitting it was more of a senior player job than something a player has complete control over.
“Hopefully (at the end of the season) a younger man or some other character will raise his hand for a leadership position and that’s what you want leaders to develop within the squad,” explains Kriel.
“I don’t see it as a sole proprietorship. You definitely need eyes and ears on the pitch to help you and you need to listen to your players. So it’s not just a one-man business, it’s a senior team effort and we also get a lot of guidance from the coaches.”