Oli Kebble jumps at the chance to extend Glasgow Warriors deal

South African prop qualifies to play for Scotland on residency grounds next summer but says his current focus is purely on Glasgow Warriors

Oli Kebble
Oli Kebble helps Glasgow Warriors launch their 2019-20 strip. Image: ©Craig Watson - www.craigwatson.co.uk

GLASGOW WARRIORS are working hard to get their business done early this year, with prop Oli Kebble following the lead set last week by centre Stafford McDowall in agreeing a two -year contract extension with the club, despite having 12-months to run on their existing deals. Both players are now committed to the Scotstoun outfit until at least the summer of 2022.

“From my side, I want to stay at Warriors for as long as I can, so when the opportunity came across that we could sort something out early – sort out my security – I was happy to do that,” said Kebble, speaking as he helped Warriors unveil their new strip for the coming season at Scotstoun yesterday [Monday].

“This is one of the best team environments I have been part of – the coaching environment is unbelievable – and we are obviously doing really well in the league and challenging a lot in Europe. So, from that point of view, it was a pretty easy decision.

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“The city is also part of it. Glaswegian people are incredibly friendly and have been really welcoming to my partner and I, so outside of rugby it has been really good to us,” added he South Africa prop.

Kebble arrived at the club in 2017, before the residency requirement for international qualification was extended from three to five years, meaning that he will be eligible to wear the thistle next summer. “I’m not thinking about that [the Scottish qualification issue] at the moment, it is not something we have talked about,” he said.

“I do qualify in the next year, but I don’t know exactly when, and a whole season in rugby is a long time – so I’m not looking that far ahead. I’m just worried about playing well for Warriors. That’s my priority.

“We stumbled at the final hurdle last year and that’s incredibly frustrating. We’ve been thinking about that game [against Leinster in the PRO14 Grand Final] for the whole of the season, and we obviously want to go one further this year. The whole squad is extremely hungry for a title.

At 6ft 3ins and 124kgs, Kebble certainly has the physical attributes to succeed at the highest level, and he believes that his move to Glasgow has helped him develop the technical side of his game to a level where he can now fully realise his potential.

“I had ideas of what I was like as a player before I arrived, but very quickly you find out that northern hemisphere rugby is a bit different to Super Rugby, and I think it does take a year or so to adjust to the way everyone plays up here,” he explained.

“Set-piece wise, I have learned a lot in the last two years. South Africa has a lot of strong men with a lot of power but coming up here I have had to learn more about technique.

“Also, from an attacking and a defence point of view, the coaches have taught me a lot. It is just a completely different game from Super Rugby, I would say. I’ve learned a lot more about the game as a whole.”

Glasgow Warriors assistant coach John Dalziel welcomed the news of Kebble’s new deal. “In open play, Oli is equally as comfortable distributing as he is carrying, which is crucial for us and allows us play the expansive style of rugby we have become known for,” he said. “He’s a huge, physical presence and it’s great for the club that he is going to be part of our pack for the foreseeable future.”

Glasgow Warriors kick off their pre-season fixture schedule on Saturday afternoon [1.30pm kick-off] against Ulster in Belfast.

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About David Barnes 3908 Articles
David has worked as a freelance rugby journalist since 2004 covering every level of the game in Scotland for publications including he Herald/Sunday Herald, The Sunday Times, The Telegraph, The Scotsman/Scotland on Sunday/Evening News, The Daily Record, The Daily Mail/Mail on Sunday and The Sun.