EP Kings head coach Carlos Spencer has announced a much changed team to take on the Free State Cheetahs in their final warm up game in Cradock on Friday.
Spencer said Luke Watson will once again captain the side, having returned after sitting out the game against the SWD Eagles in George due to a rib injury.
In comparison to the SWD Eagles game, Spencer has named eight new players in the starting line up and four more have received a starting position after being called up from the bench.
Lizo Gqoboka is the only player to retain his spot in the team at loosehead prop. He is accompanied up front by Michael van Vuuren, who returns to hooker in place of Edgar Marutlulle and Tom Botha at tighthead in place of Charl du Plessis. Both Marutlulle and Du Plessis move to the bench.
Steven Sykes returns at number 4 Lock, with David Bullbring moving to the opposite side at no 5 in place of Steven Cummins who moves to the bench.
The loose trio will consist of Thembelani Bholi, who returns to blindside flank in place of Paul Schoeman who moves to the bench, Shaun McDonald at openside flank in place of Stefan Willemse who also moves to the bench and Luke Watson who comes on in place of Aidon Davis.
Tobie Botes returns at scrumhalf in place of Jaco Grobler, who is benched, with George Whitehead rotating with Gary van Aswegen at flyhalf.
Siviwe ‘Shakes” Soyizwapi returns to the squad at left wing, while Sergeal Petersen moves across to right wing.
Shane Gates comes on at inside centre for Dwane Jenner, while Ronnie Cooke returns at outside centre in place of Tim Whitehead who moves to the bench.
Scott van Breda takes up his familiar spot at fullback, in place of Ntabeni Dukisa, who also moves onto the bench for Friday’s game.
The only other change on the bench was the inclusion of CJ van de Linde, who along with Kevin Luiters make up the 26 man team travelling to Cradock.
Spencer said that Paul Perez was the only player who was not available for selection due to injury, as he had injured his knee during practice on Friday.
“We don’t know the extent of the injury as yet, as he has only gone for scans today, but we remain positive and hopefully he will come through the scan okay and it’s just a niggle,” said Spencer.
Spencer said Siyanda Grey had also not been available for selection, as he had requested leave to attend a family funeral.
Spencer said the mood in the camp was positive as the end of the pre-season drew near.
“We have had a tough week of training last week and it has been a long five months for some in terms of workload. We have put the hard work in and now it’s all about the business end of the season that starts next Friday night.”
“The guys are really looking forward to it, but we’ll get this week out of the way first, and then worry about Currie Cup next week,” he said.
Spencer said he had not yet seen the team for the Cheetahs, but was expecting a tough match in Cradock. The game will take place at the Cradock Sports Stadium and will kick off at 3pm. Tickets will be available at the gate at R20 for adults and R10 for Scholars.
- Lizo Gqoboka
- Michael van Vuuren
- Tom Botha
- Steven Sykes
- David Bulbring
- Thembelani Bholi
- Shaun McDonald
- Luke Watson (C)
- Tobie Botes
- George Whitehead
- Siviwe Soyizwapi
- Shane Gates
- Ronnie Cooke
- Sergeal Petersen
- Scott van Breda
- Edgar Marutlulle
- CJ van der Linde
- Charl du Plessis
- Paul Schoeman
- Stefan Willemse
- Steven Cummins
- Kevin Luiters
- Jaco Grobler
- Gary van Aswegen
- Tim Whitehead
- Ntabeni Dukisa