NEW signing Hansie Graaff says the EP Kings will be anxious to make a huge statement to all the Currie Cup Premier Division teams when they face Wales in their international friendly on Tuesday.
Graaff, formerly of the Griffons and the Sharks, is one of a number of new faces in a team that will face the Welsh Dragons at Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium (kick-off 7pm).
“It’s is an exhibition match so there is no pressure on us, but we also do not want to look like fools,” said the utility back. “We are going to try and make a huge statement to Wales and the Currie Cup teams. I’m positive we will be well supported. We’re physically smaller than Wales so we need a 16th man.”
After a 12-year absence from the top flight, the Kings return to the Currie Cup Premier Division on August 8 when they face Western Province in Port Elizabeth.
Tuesday’s game against Wales is one of the three warm-up games, with the other two being against a Bulls XV on June 20 and then a clash against a Sharks XV on July 4.
“My contract expired at the Sharks and my agent lined me up with the Kings. I was keen to come to Port Elizabeth because the Kings are going to be playing in the Currie Cup Premier Division and will play Super Rugby in 2016.
“The new guys that have been signed up by the Kings are a mix of experience and youth. I think that good times are coming for the Kings. The newcomers are fitting in easily and the guys are all helping one another. It is almost like a family at the Kings,” Graaff said.
Though he will play at fullback against Wales, he said he also enjoys playing flyhalf.
“Though I like to play at flyhalf, if there is a good No 10 then I will play at fullback anytime because there is more space at the back. I have been at the Kings for a month and have enjoyed working with head coach Carlos Spencer.
He doesn’t talk much, but when he does you listen. He is a very creative coach.”
Graaff said one of his dreams is to get into Super Rugby in 2016. “I was at the Cheetahs and Sharks, but did not play Super Rugby. So firstly I want to play Super Rugby and then maybe look for a Springbok jersey.”
Meanwhile, Wales have announced that Dan Lydiate will captain their team in Port Elizabeth. The British and Irish Lions flanker has recovered from a hamstring injury to lead a match day squad that includes all four uncapped players who have made the journey to South Africa.
Three of those players are named in Warren Gatland’s starting XV with Matthew Morgan at fullback, Steven Shingler at inside centre and Jordan Williams on the wing.
They are joined in the backline by Cardiff Blues duo Alex Cuthbert and Cory Allen as well as James Hook and Rhodri Williams at half back.
Paul James is named alongside Scott Baldwin and Rhodri Jones in the front-row with Jake Ball and Ian Evans in the second-row. Lydiate is joined by the Scarlets Josh Turnbull at flanker, with Dan Baker at No 8.