George Kruis may have ruled himself out of England contention by moving to Japan but he is aiming to convince Warren Gatland to include him in the British and Irish Lions selection debate for the series with South Africa this summer.
Kruis, who was in try scoring form for Panasonic Wild Knights last weekend, spoke to Gatland before taking up his Japanese contract that brought an end to his career at Saracens and made the 45-cap cap lock ineligible for England. However, the Lions head coach made it clear the 6ft 6ins forward can still be considered for selection for the test series with the World Cup holders which looks likely to take place in the UK.
Having toured with the 2017 Lions in New Zealand and appeared in one test, Kruis’s line out skills are well known to Gatland and the 31-year-old has helped the Wild Knights move to the top of the White Conference of the Top League with three wins.
The league has attracted a host of high profile players including All Blacks Brodie Rettalick, Beauden Barrett and Kieran Reid along with Wallaby captain Michael Hooper and Springbok centre Jesse Kriel who was in the Canon Heat team beaten by Kruis’s side 47-0 last weekend in Oita where England played during the 2019 Rugby World Cup.
Kruis, who takes on NTT Docomo Red Hurricanes this weekend, told RugbyPass: “I had a conversation with Warren before I left and I have to play as best as I can and see if there is anything there. I know I have distanced myself by going half way around the world and if there was an opportunity (to play for the Lions) I would jump at it. I would be pumped to do it and I believe Warren will be keeping an open mind.”
Kruis has been watching the Six Nations matches on delay and will catch up with England v France once his Wild Knights game is over and is confident former second row colleague Maro Itoje will not be affected by having been singled out for conceding penalties against Wales. “ It’s different ( watching in Japan) and of course, you would like to be involved and I knew I was giving up that opportunity with England and sometimes it is tough watching. You just want to guys to do well and win and I get the games sent to me.
“Maro is mentally very strong and good players and coaches find ways through it. In games there are things you can control and others that are taken out of your hands and when you compound it with penalties it does make it hard to win games against teams like Wales. They will be disappointed where they are in the table but there are still positives to be taken. Nothing is as good or as bad as it seems and that rings true with how England are playing and the perception in the media.
“I haven’t seen any highlights of the Saracens loss to Cornish Pirates and the lads will be hurting and the character of the players means they will be giving everything in this next game. I avoid reading too much media at the moment and it is a choice I have made over the last couple of years.”
Kruis is due to meet up with Alex Goode, his former team mate, who is also based in the Tokyo area playing for the NEC Green Rockets and the teams meet in three weeks’ time. While Kruis’s team are unbeaten, Goode is still waiting for a victory after three defeats in a league that has defied the pandemic to deliver plenty of points for fans.
He added: “We test weekly for Covid-19 and can train and play without much disruption which is great. The rugby is less set piece without too much kicking game structure and more emphasis on attacking rugby. Defences aren’t poor but there is more concentration on attack and the top teams have some really good players. There are basically three groups of players; foreign internationals, Japanese internationals and amateurs who train full time but on days off they will work for the company.
“Everyone is full time with the amateurs having a chance to work for Panasonic for a long time post-rugby and while it is a different system there are a lot of benefits to it as well. It is very progressive and should be looked at elsewhere. “
Besides making an impact on Japanese rugby, Kruis is also building on his successful business partnership with former Saracens team mate Dominic Day which launched in 2018 specialising in CBD oil – a chemical substance found in cannabis that has medical benefits . Their foray into oil has just expanded in vitamins and nutrition and their products will be available at a major UK pharmacy chain shortly. This is part of his post-rugby planning.
Kruis explained: “ To perform your best you need nutrition that actually works. Like most things, you get back what you put in and when we dug deeper, we were disappointed with what we found in the nutrition we were taking with products full of filler and chalk, rather than solid scientific evidence. We decided to make a range of nutrition products, Fourfive Nutrition, designed to our professional standard, without artificial fillers and at the highest bioavailability specification.
“We’ve created safe, Informed Sport tested, high-end nutrition that everyone can trust, from sports professionals to enthusiasts and everyone in-between.”
Kruis and Day’s latest product launch can be seen at www.fourfivenutrition.co.uk