EP Kings coach Brent Janse van Rensburg has welcomed the return of experienced skipper Luke Watson to the team for their Currie Cup clash against the Sharks at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium in on Saturday (17:05 kick-off).
The veteran flank missed the Kings’ game against the Pumas last weekend, which EP lost 15-13, and Janse van Rensburg is hoping his return introduces a sense of calm on the field as they chase their first win this season.
Watson suffered a “dead leg” in the Durban clash against the Sharks, but has recovered to be included in the starting line-up.
He has replaced the injured Jacques Engelbrecht, with Thembelani Bholi being rewarded with a fine performance last week taking over the No 7 jersey.
“Luke is an exceptional leader and only now that I have had the opportunity to work with him do I realise what he can contribute,” said Janse van Rensburg. “He has a feel for the game and a really good understanding of what to do, of what will work, and it’s really good to have him back.”
Regular vice-captain Tim Whitehead remains on the sidelines due to concussion, while in a rotation move, prop Lizo Gqoboka gets a start in the front row with Schalk Ferreira on the bench.
Janse van Rensburg acknowledged they faced a tough challenge against a Sharks side who will be as motivated to win as the home team.
“We have had opportunities to finish things off in our previous two matches, which we didn’t take, and it is not going to get any easier,” the Kings coach said. “But we know we have to get the basics right and try to be more accurate in our approach.
“Every week we go out there and make sure we give our best effort, and that is what we will be doing on Saturday. We will focus on our processes and if we make sure we go out there and give our best, everything else will look after itself.”
15 Scott van Breda, 14 Siyanda Grey, 13 Ronnie Cooke (vice-captain), 12 JP du Plessis, 11 Luther Obi, 10 Karlo Aspeling, 9 Enrico Acker, 8 Tim Agaba, 7 Thembelani Bholi, 6 Luke Watson (captain), 5 Cornell Hess, 4 Steven Sykes, 3 Tom Botha, 2 Martin Ferreira, 1 Lizo Gqoboka
Substitutes: 16 Schalk Ferreira, 17 Edgar Marutlulle, 18 Simon Kerrod, 19 Stefan Willemse, 20 Paul Schoeman, 21 Dwayne Kelly, 22 Hansie Graaff
15. Joe Pietersen, 14. Odwa Ndungane, 13. Paul Jordaan, 12. Andre Esterhuizen, 11. S’bura Sithole, 10. Lionel Cronje, 9. Michael Claassens, 8. Philip van der Walt, 7. Daniel du Preez, 6. Francois Kleinhans, 5. Marco Wentzel (captain), 4. Etienne Oosthuizen, 3. Gerhard Engelbrecht, 2. Monde Hadebe, 1. Dale Chadwick
Substitutes: 16. Kyle Cooper, 17. Thomas du Toit, 18. JC Astle, 19. Jean-Luc du Preez, 20. Stefan Ungerer, 21. Wandile Mjekevu, 22. Garth April