Juandre Kruger: “It is a privilege and an honour to join Scarlets”

Rob Lloyd News

He may only be in Llanelli on a short stay, but Juandre Kruger believes Scarlets have a bright future ahead of them.

The experienced Springbok lock will be at Parc y Scarlets until the end of November before he returns to South Africa to link up with Super Rugby side the Bulls.

Kruger made his Scarlets debut in the 54-10 hammering of Zebre last time out and even though he has only been in West Wales a few weeks, the 34-year-old has been mightily impressed by what he has seen so far.

“It’s been great, it is a real privilege and honour to join here,” he said.

“The mentality is a little different to a player signing for two or three years. I know my job and I’ve come in for two months to contribute to this team, the environment and the squad. It is a privilege to be able to share some experience and also learn from the guys here.”

Kruger added: “I have come here and seen a real brotherhood and pride in the team. The synergy in this team is something you don’t really see in a lot of sporting environments.

“Coming in, to be honest I didn’t feel that the Scarlets are in a transition (with a new coaching team). I just heard these things.

“There are world-class training facilities here and the way the team is being prepared and coached is international level.

“As for the squad, there are loads of young players that I believe will go on and represent their country which is great to see.

“As I said, it is a great opportunity for me to learn and share some experience with them and contribute for the short period I am here.”

Kruger has been playing in France for the last six years, initially in Paris with Racing 92 and then on the Cote d’Azur with three-times European champions Toulon.

“I was with Racing when we played Scarlets in our Champions Cup pool and also played against Scarlets when I was at Toulon so I have had some great battles with French sides against Scarlets,” he added.

It was at Toulon where he was coached by Richard Cockerill, now at the helm of Saturday’s opponents Edinburgh.

“He got Toulon to a Top 14 final against Clermont Auvergne so I know a bit about how he coaches and prepares his team. 

“They pride themselves on their set-piece performance and on their basics, they are a well-coached team. We have had a good start, now we have another great opportunity and challenge against Edinburgh.

“We know what’s coming and we are going out there and try and put in our best performance. We are excited for a great weekend of footie.”

Capped 17 times for the Boks, the last time against the All Blacks in 2013, Kruger is also looking forward to watching Sunday’s World Cup semi-final between South Africa and Wales – although he will have to wait until the squad land after their Sunday morning flight back from Edinburgh to catch the game.

“It is going to be a great game if rugby. I’ve got loads of Welsh team-mates here now, but if you’re asking me to pick a winner I’ve got to go for my country!”