EP Kings Vodacom Cup head coach, Mzwandile Stick, said the team knows that they are in for a tough battle against the Border Bulldogs, when they face off against each other on the Great Field, Rhodes University, Grahamstown on Saturday afternoon.
Announcing his team at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium, Stick said there was no doubt that Border would be looking to prove a point.
“You must remember that a lot of the players playing for Border are players who have been playing club rugby and who were not part of the Border professional structures last year, and they will be coming to prove a point to their executive,” he said.
Stick announced a much changed team, boasting six changes to the starting line up from the first game against the Kenyan Tusker Simba XV side, where they lost 17- 10 in the game played at City Park in Cape Town.
Stephan Zaayman will again captain the side, but moves from eighth man to lock, opposite Rynier Bernardo, who joins the team.
“It’s great to have Rynier as part of the team. We have been struggling with our set piece, most notably the line outs, and (Currie Cup head coach) Carlos Spencer has released him to play. Rynier will bring stability there and will help solve some of the problems we’ve been having up front,” he said.
Joining Bernardo as a new addition to the team is CJ Velleman, who was called up from the Kings Academy, and Masixole “Coyi” Banda, a club player. Dwayne Kelly, Brian Skosana and Ivan-John du Preez, who all came up from the bench last week, have also earned starting positions.
Another welcome addition to the team is Aidon Davis, who comes onto the bench following a long absence due to a knee injury sustained last year.
Stick said while it was good to have access to the senior players, and that he was looking forward to having them as part of the team throughout the season, the competition was geared at giving the younger players an opportunity to prove themselves at a professional level.
“It would be unfair to make all the changes and fill the squad with seasoned players, we need to develop our players and improve the depth of cover at various positions,” he said.
Looking at the game against the Tusker Simba XV side, Stick said it had been a hard lesson to learn for some of the players, but that it had also been a necessary lesson.
“We knew what to expect as the coaching staff, and we had a game plan in place, but the plan was not executed by some of the players.”
He said he felt that only one of the Simba’s three tries had been deserved, with two others coming from mistakes that the EP Kings players had made.
“I think it was an important lesson for them, it’s not about the team you are playing against, it is about your own standards. They have learnt that they have to be professional every time they take to the field and it is good that they learnt that lesson now, rather than later on in the season,” he said.
Zaayman said the mood among the players was good, despite the loss.
“We know that we have to put that game behind us now, it’s over and we have to prepare for the game ahead, and we are excited about playing against Border as it is always a good derby,” he said.
Zaayman said he was also comfortable at the change in position, having played there during his school career.
- The team is: 1. Brenden Olivier, 2. Albe de Swardt, 3. Vukile Sofisa, 4. Rynier Bernardo, 5. Stephan Zaayman (C), 6. Thembelani Bholi, 7. Cyril –John (CJ) Velleman, 8. Ivan-John du Preez, 9. Dwayne Kelly, 10. Ntabeni Dukisa, 11. Lance Louw, 12. Tiger Mangweni (VC), 13. Brian Skosana, 14. Eben Barnard, 15. Masixole “Coyi” Banda
- Replacements: 16. Tabbie du Plessis, 17. Pieter Stemmet, 18. Aidon Davis, 19. Siphesihle Phunguzwa, 20. Sonwabo Majola, 21. Sphumelelo Msuthwana, 22. Selvyn Davids
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