Cape Town – Southern Kings captain Luke Watson has pulled out of their pre-season clash against the Stormers in Port Elizabeth due to a sore shoulder.
Die Burger newspaper reports that flank Vleis Engelbrecht will now move into the No 8 position to replace Watson. Boetie Britz will move up from the bench to take Engelbrecht’s spot; with experienced lock Darron Nell taking over the captaincy.
Watson did, however, have some advice for his team-mates after they were frequently punished by referee Stuart Barry in their 12-16 loss to the Bulls last week.
“Play couldn’t flow last week due to all the penalties. Every year the referees get something new on which they focus.
Lourens van der Merwe will be the referee on Saturday and will guard the breakdowns and scrums extra carefully.
The Kings also struggled in the lineouts against the Bulls and with the Stormersâ€™ 2,08m tall Andries Bekker they could be in for a long afternoon.
Kings coach Alan Solomons says he expects an improvement in the scrums. However, Solomons is less worried about the result of this game than the future of Kings rugby.
“It’s still an issue with the current players who have to prove that they want to be part of our Super Rugby plans for next year. The result is irrelevant.”
Solomons put structures in place at the franchise to ensure that they will be competitive at regional level in future.
“There’s a good academy here now, a rugby section and medical structures. I’ve also set up a comprehensive strategic plan. It includes the recruitment of players.
“The Eastern Cape is yet to have a professional era in Super Rugby. Itâ€™s fantastic for the region to get it now.
“The black communities here have always been fond of the game and allocation of a regional team will give rugby a boost.”
But Solomons will go into the game against the Stormers with a largely depleted line-up. Devin Oosthuizen (loose forward), Joe Snyman (lock), SP Marais (fullback), Jongi Nokwe (wing), Siyanda Grey (centre) and George Whitehead (back) are all injured.
Kings: 15 Tiger Mangweni, 14 Marcello Sampson, 13 Jaco Bekker, 12 Wayne Stevens, 11 Norman Nelson, 10 Shane Gates, 9 Falie Oelschig, 8 Vleis Engelbrecht, 7 Boetie Britz, 6 Mpho Mbiyozo, 5 David Bulbring, 4 Darron Nell (captain), 3 Clint Newland, 2 Hannes Franklin, 1 Jaco Engels.
Substitutes: 16 Bobby Dyer, 17 Zane Killian, 18 Andre Schlechter, 19 Wayne van Heerden, 20 Reynier Bernardo, 21 Thembelani Bholi, 22 Dustin Jinka, 23 Earl Rose, 24 Dwayne Jenner, 25 Kieran Goss.
Stormers: 15 Joe Pietersen, 14 Gio Aplon, 13 Bryan Habana, 12 Jean de Villiers (captain), 11 Gerhard van den Heever, 10 Gary van Aswegen, 9 Louis Schreuder, 8 Nick Koster, 7 Duane Vermeulen, 6 Siya Kolisi, 5 Andries Bekker, 4 Rynhard Elstadt, 3 Brok Harris, 2 Tiaan Liebenberg, 1 Steven Kitshoff.
Substitutes: 16 Deon Fourie, 17 Deon Carstens, 18 Siyabonga Ntubeni, 19 Frans Malherbe, 20 Eben Etzebeth, 21 De Kock Steenkamp, 22 Nizaam Carr, 23 Nic Groom, 24 Marcel Brache, 25 Burton Francis, 26 Danie Poolman.