Southern Kings captain Steven Sykes will lead the team out when the Kings make their return to the Vodacom Super Rugby competition, playing their first match against the Cell C Sharks on Saturday.
Head Coach Deon Davids said he was looking forward to playing the first game of the season at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium.
“We couldn’t have asked for a better draw, to start playing at home,” he said.
“We know that Port Elizabeth is the friendly city, they always support games well, they love their sport and their rugby and we are going to need that,” said Davids.
“I can assure you that the players wearing the jersey will do their utmost best,” he said.
Captain Sykes said supporters could expect something special from the team.
“I think the guys have a bigger, never say die attitude. The guys want to play, we want to show everyone that we are here to play rugby and here to play as a team,” he said.
Naming his team, Davids said a late withdrawal meant they had not yet finalised the bench for Saturday’s game.
“We had a late withdrawal of Jacobie Adriaanse as a result of concussion, but we have two props who are training with us since last week, Louis Alberts and Liam Hendricks, who we will evaluate,” said Davids.
Davids said both props would be part of a scrum session in the afternoon and the coaching staff would consider various factors before making a decision on who would come onto the bench.
“We are excited to go. The players have worked really hard and we have tried to tick most of the boxes in preparation for this game and are looking forward to this challenge and being able to play Super Rugby.
“We have huge respect for the Sharks. If you look at the players involved in their warm up matches, they have a good balanced squad, a mixture of experienced players with one or two youngsters coming through.
“They have a good pack of forwards and an exciting back line. The sharks are a team that wants to dominate opposition with go forward ball from set pieces. It will be a challenge for us, and we will have to ensure that we are defensively organised,” he said.
Davids said he was not concerned about the tempo of Vodacom Super Rugby.
“I am not concerned. We have talked about the intensity and what we can expect. We have tried to simulate that in our training sessions and have trained at a very high intensity.
“It is a case of how well we have done things we could have done up to now,” he said.
According to the bookies, the Sharks are overwhelming favourites to win the game, by 15 points or more. Odds are being offered at 1/4 on an outright Sharks victory.
The Southern Kings team:
15. Jurgen Visser
14. Luzuko Vulindlu
13. JP du Plessis
12. Shane Gates
11. Malcolm Jaer
10. Elgar Watts
9. Ntando Kebe
8. Jacques Engelbrecht
7. Thembelani Bholi
6. Chris Cloete
5. John Charles Astle
4. Steven Sykes
3. Tom Botha
2. Martin Ferreira
1. Schalk Ferreira
16. Edgar Marutlulle
17. Sithembiso (Sti) Sithole
19. Schalk Oelofse
20. Cyril-John Velleman
21. Leighton Eksteen
22. Louis Fouche
23. Charles Radebe