THERE will be no lack of intensity from a fired-up Southern Kings outfit when they take on the Cheetahs in a Super Rugby friendly at Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium on Saturday.
That was the promise from Kings caretaker coach and former Springbok prop Robbie Kempson when he named his team to take on what is expected to be a full-strength Cheetahs side.
“We will not be lacking intensity on Saturday, even though it is a friendly,” he said when he unveiled a team mixing youth and experience for the first game of the season.
“The Kings have got some very exciting players in their back line. I have never known a team in an EP (Eastern Province) jersey not to front up,” said Kempson.
After a frustrating time on the sidelines, teen flyer Sergeal Petersen will be looking to make an immediate impression upon his return.
The Kings will feature a dynamic young front row comprising props BG Uys and Pieter Stemmet and hooker Dane van der Westhuyzen. They are likely to pack down against Cheetahs Trevor Nyakane, Adriaan Strauss and Coenie Oosthuizen.
Former Leopards scrumhalf Jaco Grobler gets an early chance to impress in a Kings jersey and he will be out to forge a good partnership with flyhalf George Whitehead.
“The Cheetahs will pick their strongest side against us so we have to start with the big guns and blood the youngsters in during the second half,” Kempson said.
A new face at centre is Dwayne Jenner who will pair up with experienced Ronnie Cooke in midfield.
“We are trying to build something here, that is why there is a mixture of older guys and youngsters. The Kings are trying to build long term and this is not about short-term statements. This is a long-term project,” Kempson said.
“The guys in the Varsity Cup will come into the mix later for the Vodacom Cup and the Currie Cup.
“The base of this squad has been built over the past few weeks and we will maintain that going into the friendlies,” he added.
Eastern Province Rugby CE Charl Crous encouraged people to come out and support the Southern Kings in their three warm-up matches against the Cheetahs, Lions and Stormers.
“Even though the Southern Kings are not playing Super Rugby this year, we are still creating opportunities for the people of Nelson Mandela Bay and surrounds to experience top-class rugby and see some of the Super Rugby teams in action before the season gets under way,” he said.
Crous said that in keeping with last year’s strategy to make top-class rugby accessible to all, tickets are priced at just R50 and are available through Computicket and any Shoprite or Checkers outlet, as well as at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium ticketing office.
Southern Kings team:
BG Uys, Dane van der Westhuyzen, Pieter Stemmet, Steven Sykes, Rynier Bernardo, Paul Schoeman, Darron Nell, Devin Oosthuizen, Jaco Grobler, George Whitehead, Michael Killian, Dwayne Jenner, Ronnie Cooke, Sergeal Petersen, Siviwe Soyizwapi. Replacements: Albe de Swardt, Brenden Olivier, Vukile Sofisa, Stephan Zaayman, Stephan Greeff, Thembelani Bholi, Claude Tshidibi, Sonwabo Majola, Shane Gates, Ntabeni Dukisa, Brian Skosana.