Port Elizabeth – Darron Nell has been named captain of the Kings team that will take on the Lions at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium on Friday in the first of two promotion-relegation matches for the right to play Super Rugby next year.
Kick-off is at 19:10.
Nell was called up after Andries Strauss broke his left hand during practice on Friday last week.
â€œDarron has done a tremendous job for us over the years in a leadership role, whenever he has captained a side he has done so successfully, and after giving the matter careful consideration we feel he is the best man to lead the side in this big game,â€? said Director of Rugby, Alan Solomons.
â€œRonnie will take over the leadership of the back line as vice captain, he has, throughout the season, had a very influential role and has played nearly every single game for us, and we are very fortunate to have someone of that ilk taking leadership of the backs.â€?
â€œAndries was the one player who was not considered because of his broken hand, but it has presented a great opportunity for Shane Gates to come up to the starting fifteen,â€? said Director of Rugby, Alan Solomons.
Solomons said there was a fair amount of consistency in the team that had been selected, with many pairings having played together throughout the season. The Front pack remains relatively unchanged, with Schalk Ferreira, Bandise Maku and Kevin Buys, while loose trio Wimpie van der Walt, Jacques â€œVleisâ€? Engelbrecht and Cornell du Preez will be looking to make a significant impact in play.
â€œThis match is critical to both franchises, because the consequences of these matches are extremely serious. The winner of these two matches remains in Super Rugby and the side that loses is out of Super Rugby,â€? said Solomons.
Head coach Matt Sexton said there was an air of excitement among the players ahead of the game.
â€œI think the general feeling we have is excitement, itâ€™s a huge occasion, itâ€™s like a test match or world cup final. The guys are looking forward to the occasion,â€? he said.
Sexton said he did not want to give too much away about the game plan.
â€œYou take each team on their merits and there are opportunities that will be presented during the match and we just need to capitalise on that,â€? he said.
â€œThe times where we have been successful on the score board are times where weâ€™ve been very clinical in our approach,â€? he said.
Supporters have been encouraged to wear black to show their support on Friday. Tickets are available at Computicket, the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium and the Boardwalk Ticketing Office.
15. SP Marais, 11. Marcello Sampson, 13. Ronnie Cooke, 12. Shane Gates, 14. Hadleigh Parkes, 10. Demetri Catrakilis, 9. Shaun Venter, 8. Jacques Engelbrecht, 7. Wimpie van der Walt, 6. Cornell du Preez, 5. David Bulbring, 4. Darron Nell (captain), 3. Kevin Buys, 2. Bandise Maku, 1. Schalk Ferreira
Substitutes: 16. Charl du Plessis, 17. Hannes Franklin, 18. Steven Sykes, 19. Devin Oosthuizen, 20. Nicolas Vergallo, 21. George Whitehead, 22. Waylon Murray
15. Ruan Combrinck, 14. Deon van Rensburg, 13. Stokkies Hanekom, 12. Dylan des Fountain, 11. Anthony Volmink, 10. Elton Jantjies, 9. Michael Bondesio, 8. Warren Whiteley, 7. Derrick Minnie, 6. Jaco Kriel, 5. Franco van der Merwe, 4. Hendrik Roodt, 3. Julian Redelinghuys, 2. Martin Bezuidenhout, 1. JC Janse van Rensburg
Substitutes: Robbie Coetzee, Ruan Dreyer, Willie Britz, Warwick Tecklenburg, Ross Cronje, Marnitz Boshoff, Chrysander Botha