The Southern Kings have announced their Super Rugby Squad to take on The Sharks at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium on Saturday, 9th of March 2013.
The team will run onto the field under the leadership of Darron Nell, after Director of Rugby Alan Solomons announced that last Skipper Luke Watson had been named on the bench following the blow he took to his throat during the game against the Western Force.
“Luke is still battling with inflammation in the throat and there are still a few concerns around his fitness levels for Saturday’s game, and as a precaution we decided to keep him out of the starting line-up to ensure that we don’t disrupt the training ahead of Saturday,” he said.
“We felt from a playing perspective it was best to have the starting fifteen settled early on in the week, and we’ve done that. The consequence of that is that Darron comes up in place of David Bulbring, and takes up the leadership of the side,” he said.
Solomons said Watson would be seeing a specialist later in the week, and if there were still concerns there were alternatives that could be considered.
Andries Strauss, who celebrates his 29th birthday today, holds onto his Vice Captaincy, while Schalk Ferreira, who was battling a bit with a slight rib injury last week, has been named in the starting line-up.
Strauss said the team would be bringing the same level of intensity against The Sharks, if not bringing a more intense game than what was played against the Western Force.
“As a team we have set ourselves goals, and winning one game doesn’t mean we’ve really achieved anything yet… There is a big onus on us to improve on that and if we want to win more games in this competition then we are going to have to improve on that.”
“There is no better way than to take on a side with fifteen Springboks and showing the world once again that we can play this game,” he said.
Head coach, Matt Sexton, said they were expecting the game to be quite physical, with the Sharks most likely to be looking at wearing down the Southern Kings at the scrum.
“We will definitely be looking at improving our level of ball retention. If you consider that during the Western Force game we made in excess of a hundred tackles in the first half of the game, which, if you have to take those sort of statistics into every game, sooner or later you’re going to run out of petrol, so we want to make sure we retrieve the ball and hold onto it,” he said.
Former Sharks player, Steven Sykes, who also takes to the field in his second game for the Southern Kings, said he was looking forward to playing against his former teammates.
“I think the people will treat us with a bit more respect than what they had before the season. I think we did very well in the first game that we played and we showed that we are here and we are here to stay. I don’t think people will send their second string sides down to us, so it’s a nice challenge for us as well.”
Sykes said he was also looking forward to playing to a full house at the Nelson Mandela Bay stadium.
“The atmosphere at the game against the Force was amazing, probably the best I’ve experienced, and I am hoping that everyone will come out and support us again as we take on the Sharks,” he said.
15. SP Marais
11. Marcello Sampson
13. Ronnie Cooke
12. Andries Strauss (Vice Captain)
14. Sergeal Petersen
10. Demetri Catrakallis
9. Shaun Venter
1. Schalk Ferreira
2. Bandise Maku
3. Kevin Buys
6. Cornell du Preez
4. Darron Nell (Captain)
5. Steve Sykes
7. Wimpie van der Walt
8. Jacques Engelbrecht
16. Edgar Marutlulle
17. Jaco Engels
18. David Bullbring
19. Luke Watson
20. Nicolas Vergallo
21. George Whitehead
22. Hadleigh Parkes