The Southern Kings will welcome back the man who many consider to be the find of their first Vodacom Super Rugby season when they face the Waratahs at Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium in Port Elizabeth on Saturday.
Sergeal Petersen, who has been out for a few weeks with injury, will take up position on the right wing in place of former Lions star Michael Killian, who will switch to the Eastern Province Kings Vodacom Cup team for their quarterfinal clash with the Blue Bulls in Pretoria. Petersen’s selection in place of Killian is the only change to the side that lost 26-12 to the Toyota Cheetahs in Bloemfontein last weekend.
That means that Luke Watson, who captained the team in the first match of the season against the Western Force, will continue his comeback from the bench, with rugby director Alan Solomons and coach Matt Sexton issuing a vote of confidence in the team that played against the Cheetahs.
Solomons said he had been happy with the improvement the Kings had shown against the Cheetahs from their previous game against the Bulls, and attributed the poor performance in that game to travel fatigue. It was the Kings’ first game back from their overseas tour, which they finished with an epic first ever away win over the Melbourne Rebels a week before the Bulls fixture.
He said that with a better conversion rate of territorial ascendancy into points, the Kings could have pushed the Cheetahs close, or even beaten them.
“The first try came from deep within the Cheetah’s territory, while the second was due to a defensive lapse,” said Solomons.
“We also have to work on converting territory and possession into points; we need to be more composed in the opposition’s 22.”
The Kings should be eagerly anticipating the Waratahs game as an interesting feature of their record this season is that they have yet to lose to an Australian team – they beat the Western Force and the Brumbies, and they drew with the high-flying Brumbies.
Southern Kings team: George Whitehead, Sergeal Petersen, Ronnie Cooke, Andries Strauss (captain), Siyanda Grey, Demetri Catrakilis, Shaun Venter, Jacques Engelbrecht, Wimpie van der Walt, Cornell du Preez, Rynier Bernado, Steven Sykes, Kevin Buys, Bandise Maku, Schalk Ferreira.
Replacements: Virgile Lacombe, Grant Kemp, David Bulbring, Luke Watson, Nicolas Vergallo, Waylon Murray, Siziwe Soyizwapi.