The Southern Kings are hoping to end their tour of Australia on a high note when they face the Waratahs on Friday in the last of three Vodacom Super Rugby matches on tour.
The side from Port Elizabeth will end their three-match tour, following clashes with Western Force and Queensland Reds, with an encounter against the Waratahs at the Allianz Stadium in Sydney on Friday. The match will kick off at 11h45 (SA time).
“It’s going to be a very tough encounter this week. We have massive respect for our opponents – they are one of the top teams in this competition. They have a lot of international stars,” Southern Kings coach Deon Davids said on Wednesday.
“For us, it is about putting up a better performance. It is going to be a tough encounter – one we are really looking forward to.”
Davids named his side to take on the 2014 Vodacom Super Rugby champions on Wednesday, making four changes and one positional switch to the team that played against the Queensland Reds last weekend.
A concussion to winger Yaw Penxe, who returned to South Africa earlier in the week, has forced Davids to make one change to the backline which sees Wandile Mjekevu getting his first start of the season at right wing.
In the forwards pack, Andisa Ntsila will start at No8, replacing Ruaan Lerm, while lock Irne Herbst returns to the starting XV, changing spots with Mzwanele Zito who will be on the bench this week. Tighthead prop Ross Geldenhuys makes a return to the team following a neck spasm ahead of the Southern Kings’ match against Western Force a fortnight ago.
Justin Forwood moves from tighthead to the other side of the scrum, with Chris Heiberg, who started at loosehead last weekend, not in the matchday squad this week.
On the bench, Kurt Haupt will provide cover at hooker, while Nicolaas “Stokkies” Hanekom will provide backline backup and will be up for his first appearance for the Southern Kings in the Vodacom Super Rugby competition.
“Injuries always impact us in a sense that they influence your continuity and combinations,” the head coach said.
“Yaw Penxe and Malcolm Jaer (who sustained a knee injury after the Western Force game) are youngsters who did a great job for us, but we are lucky to fall back on the experience of Stokkies Hanekom and Ntabeni Dukisa, who have joined the team in Australia. We are hopeful that these guys will grab their opportunities and make the step up in Vodacom Super Rugby.”
Davids expressed pleasure at the growth he is witnessing from his side this season.
“We are a team that has grown tremendously on and off the field. The players have adapted well to the challenges of Vodacom Super Rugby. As a teammates they have grown closer to one another,” he said.
“It is still a process, but with each game we are improving. I think we will continue to do that throughout the competition.
“We want to end the tour well. I think it has been a tough, but enjoyable tour. There have been some good stuff and also things that we need to improve on. For us, it is about putting everything together from the start to the finish in this last match. We hope that we will get a good result.”
The Southern Kings team to face the Waratahs is:
15. Masixole Banda
14. Wandile Mjekevu
13. Berton Klaasen
12. Luzuko Vulindlu
11. Makazole Mapimpi
10. Lionel Cronje (c)
9. Louis Schreuder
8. Andisa Ntsila
7. Tyler Paul
6. Chris Cloete
5. Wilhelm van der Sluys
4. Irne Herbst
3. Ross Geldenhuys
2. Michael Willemse
1. Justin Forwood
REPLACEMENTS: 16. Kurt Haupt, 17. Schalk van der Merwe, 18. Dayan van der Westhuizen, 19. Mzwanele Zito, 20. Ruaan Lerm/Martin Bezuidenhout, 21. Johan Steyn, 22. Nicolaas “Stokkies” Hanekom, 23. Pieter-Steyn de Wet.