Southern Kings announce team to take on Chiefs
Head Coach Deon Davids has made four changes to the Southern Kings starting line-up, and seven changes overall, in the team that will face the Chiefs at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium on Saturday.
The changes stem primarily from players who have returned from injuries sustained during pre-season.
Up front, Edgar Marutlulle gets a starting berth at hooker, with Jacobie Adriaanse taking up position at tighthead prop, having returned from a concussion sustained during a pre-season warm up against the sWD Eagles. Schalk Ferreira stays on as loosehead prop, while JC Astle and Schalk Ferreira, who once again captains the side, retain their positions at 4 and 5 respectively.
The loose trio remain unchanged, with Chris Cloete and Thembelani Bholi at flank and Jacques Engelbrecht at 8th man.
Two changes in the backs starting line-up see Stefan Watermeyer comes on for JP du Plessis at outside centre, while Louis Fouche replaces Elgar Watts at flyhalf.
Ntando Kebe retains his spot at scrumhalf, along with Shane Gates at inside centre, Malcom Jaer and Luzuko Vulindlu at left and right wing respectively and Jurgen Visser at fullback.
"We are happy that Louis has recovered fully from his injury. He has been working very hard in the training session and brings something different in terms of his place kicking and field kicks," said Davids.
Davids said Fouche would also play a role in on field decision making.
"He is an experienced campaigner, a cool head and I think at this point in time he can give the team a bit of direction," he said.
The three new additions to the bench include Martin Bezuidenhout as replacement hooker, along with backs Kevin Luiters and Jaco van Tonder.
Davids said it had been important to get the first game against the Cell C Sharks out of the way, with 12 of the starting 15 Kings players in that game making their Super Rugby debut. 15 players of the 23 had earned their first Super Rugby cap in that match, which meant they were all now a little more experienced and confident.
Davids said the team had decided to use the bye as an opportunity to do some catch up work in the first half of the week, with a team building session at Sardinia Bay on Friday.
"It was a fun session. We decided to do something different, with a nice breakfast and some training away from the rugby setup," he said.
However, it was back to hard work and preparation for the squad on Monday as they geared up for the Chiefs match and their upcoming tour to New Zealand.
"We are going to be playing the next three games against New Zealand sides that have exceptional talent and play the game at a very high tempo, which brings a different set of challenges. It is going to be a massive learning curve for our players, but we are here and we must learn and go with it," he said.
The Southern Kings team:
15. Jurgen Visser
14. Luzuko Vulindlu
13. Stefan Watermeyer
12. Shane Gates
11. Malcolm Jaer
10. Louis Fouche
9. Ntando Kebe
8. Jacques Engelbrecht
7. Thembelani Bholi
6. Chris Cloete
5. John Charles Astle
4. Steven Sykes
3. Jacobie Adriaanse
2. Edgar Marutlulle
1. Schalk Ferreira
16. Sithembiso (Sti) Sithole
17. Martin Bezuidenhout
18. Tom Botha
19. Schalk Oelofse
20. Cyril-John Velleman
21. Kevin Luiters
22. Elgar Watts
23. Jaco van Tonder
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