The Southern Kings have announced their team to take on the Western Force in their Super Rugby debut at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium on Saturday, February 23rd.
“As you can see the starting line-up is the same to the warm up game against the Griquas,” said director of rugby, Alan Solomons.
“There are no major injuries, aside from Michael Killian with his broken arm and Hannes (Franklin) with his knee. Nicolás Vergallo played 30 minutes but he’s still not 100% and we have decided not to field him,” said Solomons.
Also absent from the line-up is Virgile Lacombe, who is still recovering from a rib injury.
Solomons said he was confident in the team going into their first match, despite the unfortunate loss against Griquas last week. The warm up game had given a number of players the opportunity to get some quality game time in ahead of the super rugby season.
“The execution in the Griquas game was not where it was meant to be, but the game was all about preparation and we got a lot of good out of it,” he said.
Head coach Matt Sexton said he was happy with the team taking to the field, and that the squad was looking good. He said the team had done as much as they could in preparation for their debut.
“Whatever we could do, we’ve done as far as preparation goes,” he said.
Captain of the team, Luke Watson, said it was great to be starting the season off with a home game, allowing the Southern Kings to run out in the official kit for their debut match in front of a home crowd.
The Southern Kings team includes several players who have not played Super Rugby before.
“We have experienced players like Bandise Maku and Andries Strauss who have played a lot of Super Rugby, but on the flip side there are some who have not. We all have to start somewhere and we have no doubt in the ability and commitment of those guys who will be pulling on a Super Rugby jersey for the first time.”
Southern Kings: 15 SP Marais, 14 Sergeal Petersen, 13 Ronnie Cooke, 12 Andries Strauss, 11 Marcello Sampson, 10 Demetri Catrakilis, 9 Shaun Venter, 8 Luke Watson (captain), 7 Wimpie van der Walt, 6 Cornell du Preez, 5 Steven Sykes, 4 David Bulbring, 3 Kevin Buys, 2 Bandise Maku, 1 Schalk Ferreira.
Replacements: 16 Edgar Marutlulle, 17 Jaco Engels, 18 Daniel Adongo, 19 Jacques Engelbrecht, 20 Johan Herbst, 21 George Whitehead, 22 Hadleigh Parkes.