Rugby-Bok Kriel eager to take on Lions, who his great grandfather played for


FILE PHOTO: Rugby Union - Rugby Championship - South Africa v Australia - Ellis Park Stadium, Johannesburg, South Africa - July 20, 2019 South Africa's Jesse Kriel is tackled REUTERS/Mike Hutchings

(Reuters) - South Africa centre Jesse Kriel will follow in the footsteps of his great grandfather John Hodgson in the British & Irish Lions series starting next month, except he will be on the opposite side and seeking to tame the tourists in the three-match series.

Hodgson, a loose-forward, won seven caps for England between 1932 and 1936, but also made 15 appearances for the Lions, including two tests, on his only tour.

"My great grandfather played for the Lions, so this is quite a personal one for me and it is special to be involved," Kriel told reporters. "They went to New Zealand (in 1930) and it means a lot to me and my family."

"This opportunity probably comes around once in a player’s career, so I think everyone is going to try to make the most of the chance."

Hodgson also played for England against the Springboks in 1932, a game won 7-0 by South Africa, and Kriel said his family had received his great grandfather's Lions cap, number 265, from the team last year.

Kriel, 27, will be eager to make a telling contribution for South Africa having limped out of their successful Rugby World Cup campaign in 2019 with a hamstring injury sustained in their opening match defeat to New Zealand.

"I certainly got a taste of the intensity this week," he said at the team camp in Bloemfontein. "It’s been good to be back in the set-up, and all the guys are very excited.

"We will obviously work hard on the intensity in the next few weeks and hopefully get as close as possible to Test match level.

"If you look at the make-up of a British & Irish Lions team, we know what each of them will bring as individuals, and we have to match that and even go a step up."

The Boks play two warm-up tests against Georgia on July 2 and 9, before they face the Lions on three consecutive Saturdays from July 24.

(Reporting by Nick Said; Editing by Hugh Lawson)

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