In a week where Southern Kings captain, Luke Watson came in for an immense amount of flak from haters everywhere, circumstances have put more fuel on that particular fire.
Announcing the Southern Kings team to take on the Cheetahs this Saturday in Bloemfontein, Director of Rugby Alan Solomons explained his reasons for Andries Strauss assuming the captaincy, Luke Watson being on the bench and the abscence of Sergeal Petersen from the line-up.
Making a welcome debut to Super Rugby and the Southern Kings side is local flyer, Siyanda Grey who has been putting his hand and scoring try after try up whilst playing for the EP Kings in the Vodacom Cup.
Explaining Watson’s starting from the bench Solomons said; “Luke sustained a bad ankle injury at the end of last season and missed our last couple of games, he worked extremely hard, he is a diligent professional, to get his fitness up to speed, which he did by the game against Griquas, which was our last pre-season friendly. Unfortunately Luke sustained a nasty and most unusual injury when he fractured a bone in his throat which flapped over his air passage and that made things very difficult and training impossible. In any event that settled down and he trained hard while we were away from home on tour. He played a full game against SWD and came through that game unscathed. He is our captain, an experienced player with a lot of international and Super Rugby experience. I discussed it with him and our medical staff [before the Bulls game] and we felt that we could get 40 to 45 minutes play out of him. For this particular game we are playing up country in Bloem and there is an altitude factor and, after discussing this with the conditioning and medical staff, I have decided that the most appropriate thing would be for him to come off the bench in this particular game.”
“The game against the Cheetahs is a game that will be played at pace, they are a tempo side who play a different style of rugby to the Bulls,” continued Solomons.
Sergeal Petersen’s groin is not 100% and the Kings are concerned about his recovery hence the call up to Siyanda Grey to slip the number 14 jersey on. Grey was the Player of the Tournament when the Kings won the IRB Nations Cup in Bucharest in 2011.
“He is a young guy, an athlete and wing. If he tears the groin muscle, it could not only affect his playing this season, but his career going forward. He is a young 18-year-old who has a marvellous career ahead of him and we feel that to be cautious at this point in time is the right thing for him.”
Solomons said Petersen’s unavailability presented an opportunity for Siyanda Grey to make his Super Rugby debut, while Marcello Sampson was also being rested, making way for Michael Killian, who missed out the first half of the season after breaking his arm before the start of the season.
“Siyanda sustained a torn ACL last season, and it has been a long hard road to recovery, but he has now played regularly for the Vodacom Cup side and it is great to have him back playing for the senior side and being able to play Super Rugby.”
“Marcello has been involved in most of the games to date, Michael comes back from injury and we have done a rotation there, as it is important that we have strength in depth. One must also remember that we have now played seven games back to back, including four on tour, and the effects of that are being felt,” he said.
Solomons said Ronnie Cooke moved back to centre for Waylon Murray, who moved to the bench.
Discussing the front pack, Solomons said Rynier Bernardo would start while David Bulbring moved to the bench, while Jacques “Vleis” Engelbrecht would start at number eight in Watson’s place.
Virgile Lacombe has also been named on the bench, having recovered from his rib injury and having come off a strong showing in the second half of the Vodacom Cup game against the Sharks XV this past weekend.
Andries Strauss alluded to the team not being 100% when coming back from tour when he said; “[the training this week] has been a lot better than it was last week. With the guys being back for more than a week from the tour and the guys taking a bit of a hiding against the Bulls this past weekend it certainly was a wake up call for us to lift up the intensity of training and the guys are really working hard to rectify what we have done wrong this past weekend”.
Southern Kings Team to Play Cheetahs in Bloemfontein on Saturday 27 April 2013:
- Starting Line-up: 15. George Whitehead, 11. Michael Killian, 13. Ronnie Cooke, 12. Andries Strauss (Captain) , 14. Siyanda Grey, 10. Demetri Catrakilis, 9. Shaun Venter, 1. Schalk Ferreira, 2. Bandise Maku, 3. Kevin Buys, 6. Cornell du Preez, 4. Steve Sykes (Vice Captain), 5. Rynier Bernado, 7. Wimpie van der Walt, 8. Jacques Engelbrecht,
- Replacements: 16. Virgile Lacombe, 17. Grant Kemp, 18. David Bulbring, 19. Luke Watson, 20. Nicolas Vergallo, 21. Waylon Murray, 22. Siviwe Soyizwapi