Port Elizabeth – Injuries to props CJ van der Linde and Charles Marais have forced the EP Kings to field a new-look front row when they take on the Pumas in their final Currie Cup premier division rugby game in Port Elizabeth on Friday.
Although hooker Martin Ferreira retained his spot, Van der Linde (toe) and Marais (broken thumb) were out and would be replaced by BG Uys and Simon Kerrod.
While Kings forwards coach Shaun Sowerby acknowledged the loss of Van der Linde’s experience, he felt the replacements would be up to the task as EP seek to avoid a whitewash this season after nine straight defeats.
“CJ added a lot to the group with his skills and stature,” Sowerby said of the former Springbok prop, “and Charles was scrumming well, so they will be a loss.
“But we have some young players who will be keen to take this opportunity and to do well so I don’t believe we will have a problem up front.”
The Kings also promoted lock Darron Nell, who would lead the side, and fullback Scott van Breda from the bench, with Steven Cummins and Ntabeni Dukisa named among the replacements. Siviwe Soyiswapi moved from fullback to wing.
Nell was back after nursing a calf injury and said he knew the Pumas would be fired up for the showdown.
“We know they will come out firing, but from our point of view we really want to end off well,” he said.
“We want to pull off a win especially to thank the crowd who have been so supportive of us this season. We know what the Pumas will bring to the game, but we are not too worried about that. Rather we are focused on what can do and do that well.
“We don’t dwell on the nine losses and are building on the positives we have from the last few weeks to make sure we put our game plan together.”
The Kings squad: Scott van Breda, Ronnie Cooke, Tim Whitehead, Shane Gates, Siviwe Soyizwapi, Gary van Aswegen, Tobie Botes, Tim Agaba, Devin Oosthuizen, Paul Schoeman, Cameron Lindsay, Darron Nell (captain), BG Uys, Martin Ferreira, Simon Kerrod.
Replacements: Edgar Marutlulle, Charl du Plessis, Lizo Gqoboka, Steven Cummins, Thembelani Bholi, Jaco Grobler, Ntabeni Dukisa – Sapa