Eastern Province Head Coach, Carlos Spencer has announced a few changes to the Kings team that will take on the Vodacom Blue Bulls at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium this Friday night.
Spencer announced five changes to the starting line up and a further four changes to the bench compared to the team that played against the DHL Western Province at Newlands last week.
Up front CJ van der Linde moves to the starting lineup in place of Tom Botha, who is being rested this week.
“Hopefully CJ will bring a bit more for us in terms of the scrum. We have been giving away a few penalties and free kicks in that area so hopefully with his experience he will come in an help solve that,” he said.
Spencer also announced the return of Devon Oosthuizen, who will start at flank opposite Shaun Mcdonald, while Paul Schoeman moves to eighth man to replace Aidon Davis, who twisted his knee during practice yesterday.
Among the Backs Spencer announced Gary van Aswegen’s return at flyhalf after a two week injury absence, while Shane Gates returns from the bench to inside center.
On the bench, Spencer went with a five two split, as he felt they would need more replacements up front to match the physicality of the Bulls.
“We can beat the Bulls. We understand that they are a better side than what they were three weeks ago. We know we have a massive challenge on our hands and the guys are excited by that,” he said.
“The Bulls are coming off a good win against the Lions and we need to knock that confidence out,” he said.
Spencer said it was only natural that the team’s confidence had taken a knock having lost the last five games in a row, but said they had been working hard on addressing this and were working hard to turn it around.
“It’s small things that are costing us, I have said it every week, I have 100% confidence in this team.”
“We have put the last five weeks behind us and are looking as this as the start of our season,” said Spencer.
“We have an opportunity to turn the season around; we want people to remember for the five weeks coming, not the five weeks that have gone past,” he said.
Captain Steven Sykes said he didn’t believe there was any doubt in the team.
“We are really positive and looking forward to the last five games. The guys are fired up and its great that we’re playing at home,” he said.
Sykes said they were expecting a physical match from the Bulls and the Kings were looking at bringing a strong physical game to them.
See the announcement below:
The EP Kings team:
- Starting Lineup: 15. Scott van Breda, 14. Ronnie Cooke, 13. Tim Whitehead, 12. Shane Gates, 11. Siviwe Soyizwapi, 10. Gary van Aswegen, 9. Kevin Luiters, 8. Paul Schoeman, 7. Devon Oosthuizen, 6. Shaun McDonald, 5. Steven Sykes (C), 4. David Bulbring, 3. CJ van der Linde, 2. Edgar Marutlulle, 1. Lizo Gqoboka
- Replacements: 16. Mike van Vuuren, 17. Simon Kerrod, 18. BG Uys, 19. Darron Nel, 20. Stefan Willemse, 21. Tobie Botes, 22. Ntabeni Dukisa
The Blue Bulls team:
- Starting Lineup: 15. Ulrich Beyers, 14. Akona Ndungane, 13. JJ Engelbrecht, 12. Burger Odendaal, 11. Bjorn Basson, 10. Jacques Louis Potgieter, 9. Piet van Zyl, 8. Jono Ross, 7. Jacques du Plessis, 6. Deon Stegmann (Captain), 5. Grant Hattingh, 4. Paul Willemse, 3. Werner Kruger, 2. Bongi Mbonambi, 1. Dean Greyling
- Replacements: 16. Bandise Maku, 17. Basil Short, 18. Nicolaas Janse van Rensburg, 19. Jacques Engelbrecht, 20. Rudi Paige, 21. Tian Schoeman/Tony Jantjies, 22. William Small-Smith
Tian Schoeman is bracketed with Tony Jantjies, who will undergo a fitness test before departure to Port Elizabeth.
“We have finally picked up some momentum in the competition and it is important to keep that going. To have two Springboks in Akona and Bjorn coming back to full fitness is also great and I have no doubt that they will play a big role in our effort needed against a very capable Kings side,” Ludeke said.
“We delivered a good performance against the Lions, but now need to justify that with another one against the Kings. They may be winless, but are playing a brand of rugby that will demand only the best from our defense. We will have to be sharp to beat them,” Ludeke said.