The relative success achieved by the SWD Eagles/Border Bulldogs combination last week, has piled pressure on the Eastern Province branch of the Kings franchise.
Luke Watson will lead the EP Kings into battle against the Bulls in Port Elizabeth on Saturday, when part two of head coach Alan Solomons’ masterplan kicks into action.
The Bulldogs/Eagles version of the Kings performed “admirably” against the more fancied Cheetahs last week, leading 20-7, before the men from Bloemfontein eventually raced clear to win 33-20.
And now the EP men get their shot at impressing the head coach, with spots in the 2013 Super Rugby squad the big lure.
Solomons, speaking to this website ahead of Saturday’s outing against the three-time Super Rugby champion Bulls, made it clear that the focus at this stage is on “individuals”, more than the team.
“What is important is to try and give everybody in the region exposure,” Solomons said, adding that after this game they would have seen all the available players.
“We saw a lot of the South Western Districts Eagles and Border Bulldogs players, who acquitted themselves very well against the Cheetahs.
“This is another opportunity for players to put their hands up.
“Yes, it is also an opportunity to put on trial some of the systems we have put in place.
“However, most of all these games are very important for the individuals concerned … to give them that exposure and to give them that opportunity of showing what they can do.”
With a host of the EP Kings players unavailable – either through injury or personal circumstances – a handful of ‘imports’ will be on trial.
One-time Springbok tourist Earl Rose will get his chance to impress if he comes off the bench, as will former Bulls scrumhalf Dustin Jinka.
The Kings have also called on Zane Jonathan Kilian – a utility front row player from the Falcons – to provide cover at loosehead prop.
Those not considered for Saturday include SP Marais (knee surgery, expected back in April), Jongi Nokwe (surgery, April), Siyanda Grey (cruciate ligaments, April), George Whitehead (car accident, return uncertain), Falie Oelschig (attending his brother’s wedding) and Johan Snyman (cruciate ligaments, April).
Solomons believes the trial nature of the game will ensure the back-up players will use the opportunity to lift themselves to the required standards.
“We have steadily improved the squad year-on-year,” the Kings coach said, when asked about the team’s depth.
“Just a small percentage of the players are only contracted through to the end of 2012. They now have the opportunity, they are the guys who should show what they can do.
“This is a great opportunity for them to show what they can do,” he said about the future of some individuals.
EP Kings: 15 Mzwandile Stick, 14 Norman Nelson, 13 Monty Dumond, 12 Wayne Stevens, 11 Marcello Sampson, 10 Louis Strydom, 9 Danie Faasen, 8 Luke Watson (captain), 7 Devin Oosthuizen, 6 Mpho Mbiyozo, 5 David Bulbring, 4 Darren Nell, 3 Clint Newland, 2 Hannes Franklin, 1 Jaco Engels.
Replacements – from: Andre Schlechter, Bobby Dyer, Zane Kilian, Wayne van Heerden, Jacques Engelbrecht, Dustin Jinka, Earl Rose, Tiger Mangweni, Jaco Bekker, Shane Gates.
Date: Saturday, February 4
Venue: Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium, Port Elizabeth
Kick-off: 17.00 15.00 GMT)
Referee: Stuart Berry
Assistant referees: Phillip Bosch, Christie du Preez
Article source: http://sport.iafrica.com/rugby/news/776200.html