Port Elizabeth – The Eastern Province Kings are sweating over the availability of centre Tim Whitehead for their Currie Cup clash against the Golden Lions at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium in Port Elizabeth on Saturday.
Chances were good that Whitehead would make a recovery from a knee injury, Kings coach Carlos Spencer said on Tuesday as the Eastern Cape side try to arrest a slide of three consecutive defeats.
“Tim has made a huge improvement, but we will assess him tomorrow (Wednesday) before making a final call on that one,” Spencer said.
In the meantime, Whitehead has been bracketed with Ronnie Cooke at centre in the team released on Tuesday.
If that change is made, Siyanda Grey will come in at wing for Cooke, but if Whitehead is cleared, Cooke would remain on the wing, with Grey dropping to the bench.
Spencer made several other changes to the team which lost 30-25
to the Blue Bulls in Pretoria, two of them enforced by injury.
Skipper Luke Watson is out for four weeks with concussion and is replaced by Junior Springbok Aidon Davis at eighthman.
Flyhalf Gary van Aswegen has been ruled out with a groin injury, giving George Whitehead a starting chance at flyhalf.
“Gary has had a recurring groin strain and he will be given a short break, and we will assess him on Monday,” Spencer said.
“It is important to manage him to get back to 100 percent as the injury has been affecting his kicking.”
Spencer also handed a start to prop BG Uys in place of Lizo Gqoboka, while Thembelani Bholi gets a recall at flank, with Stefan Willemse dropping to the bench.
“BG has been working hard and waiting in the wings, and we think he deserves an opportunity up front,” Spencer said.
Although they have suffered three straight defeats, Spencer said he was pleased with the positive signs shown against the Bulls last week.
“I believe we can turn things around, although we know we are in for another tough challenge,” the Kings coach said.
“But there were some positive signs from the game against the Bulls and we need to carry that into this week.
“There were improvements, but we know we need to raise the bar another few notches.”
EP Kings team: BG Uys,Edgar Marutlulle, Tom Botha,David Bulbring, Steven Sykes, Thembelani Bholi, Paul Schoeman, Aidon Davis, Kevin Luiters, George Whitehead, Siviwe Soyizwapi, Shane Gates, Tim Whitehead/Ronnie Cooke, Ronnie Cooke/Siyanda Grey, Scott van Breda.
Replacements: Mike van Vuuren, Charles Marais, Shaun McDonald, Stefan Willemse, Tobie Botes,Siyanda Grey/Dwayne Jenner, Ntabeni Dukisa. – Sapa