The Southern Kings announced an unchanged squad to tackle the Chiefs at 19h10 on Friday night at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium.
After the Kings Chiefs game the Kings will travel to Australia and New Zealand to play four matches only to return for a home game against the Bulls on Saturday 20 April in Port Elizabeth.
Director of Rugby, Alan Solomons said the unchanged team was a testament to the players’ commitment and dedication; “I think we spoke at the beginning of the season about how we, as a group, were looking to get some consistency in selection particularly over the first three games, which was the first phase of the season before going away on tour; and we have been able to do that which is also a tribute to the players who have given themselves and have performed very, very well.”
Asked about the absence of regular captain, Luke Watson, Solomons said that Watson was still recovering from his injury after taking a blow to the throat during the game against the Western Force on the 23rd of February. “Luke will be seeing the specialist tomorrow or Thursday. Once that has happened we can take decisions going forward. I think we have to take those decisions once we see the prognosis. It’s just a freak injury and just most unfortunate,” he said.
Asked about concerns over the depth of the Southern Kings squad, Solomons pointed out that the Kings were doing well in the face of recent injuries; “I think our depth is reasonable., there are some positions where you have less depth than others, but I think we’ve got a reasonable amount of depth at the moment, and we’ve seen that. I mean Luke hasn’t played, Hannes hasn’t been available, Virgil hasn’t been available, I think our depth is not too bad across the board in our squad,” he said.
Head coach Matt Sexton said the team would be looking at retaining the ball more during their encounter with the Chiefs on Friday; “They have good depth right across the board, so I think looking at their squad, whatever team they put out will be pretty solid at scrum time too, we will have a bit of a job on our hands and look forward to the challenge,” he said.
Sexton said the team had learnt a lot following their encounter against The Sharks last week; “Part of being defensive was that we didn’t hold onto the ball properly and we made some silly errors and turned over ball when we shouldn’t have. I think if we held onto the ball for a number of phases it might have been a different story. So we’ve been working on that at training and making sure guys understand. They’ve seen the pictures and the implications of letting go of the ball to easily.”
Sexton said the Chiefs were particularly clinical in their game; “They have threats right across the board. They’re pretty clinical when you turn over the ball or on a miscued kick or things like that. We want to be nice and tidy with what we do and I think that if we do that we’ll present a good challenge to them.”
Captain Darron Nell said he was looking forward to the game against the Chiefs; “Last week we had the Sharks and this week we have the Chiefs, the two finalists from last year. I think we just want to concentrate on our processes and make sure that they work well and I think the results will look after themselves. Without a doubt it’s going to be a tough game but we just want to look at ourselves and make sure we can do what we can do properly.”
When asked about comments being made about South African rugby being boring, Nell chirped; “I think if you watch some of the games there were a few boring, but if you watched the Sharks Kings game that was pretty exciting.”
The team to meet the Chiefs:
- Starting Line-up: 15. SP Marais, 11. Marcello Sampson, 13. Ronnie Cooke, 12. Andries Strauss (Vice Captain) , 14. Sergeal Petersen, 10. Demetri Catrakilis, 9. Shaun Venter, 1. Schalk Ferreira, 2. Bandise Maku, 3. Kevin Buys, 6. Cornell du Preez, 4. Darron Nell (Captain), 5. Steve Sykes, 7. Wimpie van der Walt, 8. Jacques Engelbrecht
- Replacements: 16. Edgar Marutlulle , 17. Jaco Engels, 18. David Bulbring, 19. Daniel Adongo, 20. Nicolas Vergallo, 21. George Whitehead, 22. Hadleigh Parkes
Gates open at 17h00, kick-off is at 19h10.
The next four games for the Southern Kings:
- Saturday 23 March: Crusaders v Kings – AMI Stadium, Addington, Christchurch
- Saturday 30 March Hurricanes v Kings Westpac Stadium – Wellington
- Friday 5 April: Brumbies v Kings – Canberra Stadium, Canberra
- Saturday 13 April: Rebels v Kings – AAMI Park, Melbourne