WITH their “main man” Demetri Catrakilis injured, George Whitehead is set to slot into the key flyhalf berth for the Southern Kings’ “make or break” Super Rugby relegation showdown against the Lions in Johannesburg on Saturday.
Catrakilis is out for up to six weeks with a shoulder injury.
The Kings fly to Johannesburg on Friday morning and will have a captain’s run at Ellis Park in the afternoon as they make preparations for their final game of the season.
At training on Monday Whitehead went through his drills in a line-up that appeared to be unchanged apart from the absence of Catrakilis.
Besides nailing three penalties against the Lions in Friday’s first-leg play-off match, Catrakilis was the Kings’ top scorer in Super Rugby, with 142 points from 16 matches.
Indications from the training patterns on Monday were that talented Scott van Breda could move up to the bench for the vital showdown.
Kings director of rugby Alan Solomons said Catrakilis’s injury would affect their approach.
“It does affect things, and we will have to look at that when it comes to our selection. George Whitehead is a good footballer and so is Wesley Dunlop. There is also Shane Gates as well. So we do have guys that can play at No 10. We have had discussions and will make our decision known today ,” he said.
Every point will be vital at Ellis Park, and with Lions pivot Elton Jantjies in good kicking form, the Kings will have to have their radar finely tuned whenever they get a shot at posts.
Jantjies booted 16 points in his team’s 26-19 first-leg victory in Port Elizabeth on Friday, and he will loom large as a danger man on Saturday.
There was a scare at training when Van Breda left the field with blood on his face, but he was back in action shortly afterwards after being treated by the Kings medical staff.
It also appeared as though centre Ronnie Cooke might have a slight problem with his hand, but it is unlikely to keep him out of Saturday’s clash.
Kings head coach Matt Sexton and defence coach Omar Mouneimne had long talks with the players as strategies were put in place for Johannesburg. The Kings will hold their remaining training sessions behind closed doors.
“The mood in the camp is positive and we lost it more than the Lions won the first leg,” Solomons said.
“We could and should have won that game. We know what we have to do at the weekend and it is not an impossible task.
“There is nothing to be despondent about. In this game you have to take every opportunity and give away nothing.”
Apart from naming their team to face the Lions, the Kings must also name a side to play against the Falcons in a Currie Cup First Division match at the Barnard Stadium on Saturday.
The Kings need to get back on the winning track after they slumped to a 30-23 home defeat against the Boland Cavaliers on Saturday.