ADRIFT: Alan Solomons
PHOTO: GALLO IMAGES
After slipping to a 19-11 defeat against the Stormers on Saturday, it is now inevitable that the Kings will have to defend their Super Rugby status in a home and away showdown against the Lions.
This means Kings director of rugby Alan Solomons and head coach Matt Sexton are likely to devise a strategy where they keep their players fresh and fit for a potential winner- takes-all play-off duel.
With that in mind, it is possible Kings fans can expect some “mixing and matching” when the season reaches a climax.
The play-off schedule, if it does involve the Kings, will see them play the first leg at Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium on July 26 and the second leg at Ellis Park on August 2.
Currently 14 points adrift at the bottom of the South African conference, the Kings wind up their regular season with a tough series of matches against the Bulls (away), Stormers (home) and Sharks (away).
Despite missing key players like skipper Luke Watson, flyhalf Demetri Catrakilis and lock Steven Sykes, the Kings put up a brave display against the Stormers at Newlands.
“We did miss Luke, Demetri and Steven, but we had the strength in depth to cope, which was a big positive,” Solomons said.
Stand-in flyhalf George Whitehead enjoyed a solid game at Newlands and won praise from Solomons.
Having played mostly at fullback for the Kings in Super Rugby, Whitehead showed – in difficult conditions – he is a more than able replacement for Catrakilis should the need arise.
After the Stormers game Sexton said he was a little disappointed with the Kings set-piece at Newlands.
The Lions, who thrashed Samoa 74-14 at Ellis Park on Saturday, are doing as much as possible to ensure they are ready for the play-offs. They have games against the Stormers (June 14), the Sharks (June 21), Bulls (July 6) and Griquas (July 13) to ready themselves for what promises to be a hotly contested double-header.
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