Port Elizabeth – Eastern Province Kings coach Carlos Spencer’s main focus is to keep his team relaxed this week as the team makes a return to the top echelon of Currie Cup rugby after many years in the wilderness.
On Tuesday, Spencer named Luke Watson as the captain ahead of Friday’s clash with Western Province at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium in Port Elizabeth.
“We know that it is a big challenge, but this week has been about getting the players to enjoy the preparations and to plan for the game without putting too much pressure on them,” Spencer said.
“It is important to worry only about ourselves and what we can do. We understand it will be tough and the challenge for us is to ensure we play for the full 80 minutes.”
Besides Watson’s presence, Spencer will be relying on the experience of players like Tim Whitehead, Ronnie Cooke and David Bulbring to add stability to a side in which many players will be having their first taste of the Currie Cup Premier Division.
In the front row, prop Lizo Gqoboka has been bracketed with BG Uys, but Spencer was confident Gqoboka would take his place in the starting line-up.
“Lizo didn’t take contact today, but I am pretty confident he will be fine for Friday night,” Spencer said.
Experienced lock Steven Sykes is also on the sidelines at this stage, with Spencer saying he needed a bit more game time after an injury layoff.
“Our locks (Steven Cummins and David Bulbring) have been working well together so we are happy with that combination,” he said.
15 Scott van Breda, 14 Ronnie Cooke, 13 Tim Whitehead, 12 Shane Gates, 11 Siviwe Soyizwapi, 10 Gary van Aswegen, 9 Tobie Botes, 8 Luke Watson (captain), 7 Stefan Willemse, 6 Thembelani Bholi, 5 David Bulbring, 4 Steven Cummins, 3 Tom Botha, 2 Edgar Marutlulle, 1 Lizo Gqoboka/BG Uys
Substitutes: 16 Albe de Swardt, 17 CJ van der Linde, 18 Darron Nell, 19 Aidon Davis, 20 Kevin Luiters, 21 George Whitehead, 22 Ntabeni Dukisa
15. Cheslin Kolbe, 14. Kobus van Wyk, 13. Juan de Jongh (captain), 12. Michael van der Spuy, 11. Seabelo Senatla, 10. Demetri Catrakilis, 9. Nic Groom, 8. Nizaam Carr, 7. Michael Rhodes, 6. Siya Kolisi, 5. Manuel Carizza, 4. Eben Etzebeth, 3. Pat Cilliers, 2. Tiaan Liebenberg, 1. Alistair Vermaak
Substitutes: 16. Stephan Coetzee, 17. Frans Malherbe, 18. Jean Kleyn, 19. Sikhumbuzo Notshe, 20. Louis Schreuder, 21. Robert du Preez, 22. Pat Howard