Kings must keep their eye on the ball

Tue, 19 Feb 2013 08:32
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The hype surrounding the Southern Kings' debut in Super Rugby is unprecedented, but that could have an undesirable spin-off for the players.
 

The hype surrounding the Southern Kings' debut in Super Rugby is unprecedented, but that could have an undesirable spin-off for the players.

Kings Director of Rugby Alan Solomons admitted the occasion could be distractive and result in the players losing focus, by getting caught up in the sideshows.

"Everybody knows it is a big game," Solomons told this website, when asked about a rugby match that has been in the making for almost a decade.

Going back the Kings' predecessors - the failed Southern Spears in 2005 - there has been many desperate pleas for the Eastern and Southern Cape to be given a slice of the Super Rugby pie.

Now they have and on Saturday, February 23, the Western Force will meet the Kings in the first official Super Rugby match at the nelson Mandela Bay Stadium in Port Elizabeth.

"It is massive and an historic occasion," Solomons said, adding: "From inception of Super Rugby the same South African franchises have competed [with the Cheetahs and Lions combined as the Cats for the first 10 years].

"This is the first time that a new South African franchise comes in - much like when the Western Force and Melbourne Rebels were built up from scratch."

While the players would love to soak up the atmosphere and enjoy the moment, they will need to keep their eye on the ball or risk being embarrassed by the Force.

"We have to focus on the match, on our performance and what we need to do to deliver a good performance," Solomons said, when asked about the possibility that they players get so worked up they could expend their energy before kick-off.

"Everybody is aware of the fact that it is a huge, historic occasion, but we have got to focus on the performance that we have to deliver."

The Kings have not exactly set the world alight with their pre-season performances - two sloppy wins, over the Nelson Mandela Metropole University and SWD, as well as defeats to the Lions and Griquas.

However, the real test of their readiness for Super Rugby will be on Saturday.

"We took the attitude that these games were part and partial of our pre-season preparation, and here I include the two match practices and the two friendlies we played," Solomons said.

"We gave our entire wider squad an opportunity of playing.

"Now is the acid test, when we actually play [a Super Rugby match]."

The Kings started their Super Rugby pre-season in November and apart from their Christmas break, have been working at a frenetic pace to be ready for the big day.

"Given the circumstances, we've prepared as best as we can," the Kings mentor said, adding: "Within the constraints within which we had to operate, with the season starting so early, we've done the best we can."

With the exception of a few senior players, the Kings will have a full squad to select from.

"All the guys who played against Griquas will be available," Solomons said.

Veteran hooker Hannes Franklin remains a long-term injury casualty, following knee surgery.

Lock Darron Nell, who hurt his knee and then hurt his neck in the pre–season game against the Lions, is also still out.

By Jan de Koning
 

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Fri, 28 April 2017
Highlanders v Stormers 07h35 Dunedin
Cardiff Blues v Zebre 18h05 Cardiff
Edinburgh v Dragons 18h35 Myreside
Leinster v Glasgow Warriors 18h35 RDS Arena
Newcastle Falcons v Worcester Warriors 19h00 Kingston Park
Sat, 29 April 2017
Chiefs v Sunwolves 07h35 Hamilton
Reds v Waratahs 09h45 Suncorp Stadium
Force v Lions 11h55 Perth
Ospreys v Ulster 14h00 Liberty Stadium
Bath v Gloucester 14h00 Recreation Ground
Exeter Chiefs v Northampton Saints 14h00 Sandy Park
Saracens v Bristol 14h00 Allianz Park
Harlequins v Wasps 14h00 Twickenham Stoop
Leicester Tigers v Sale Sharks 14h00 Welford Road
Cheetahs v Crusaders 15h15 Bloemfontein
Treviso v Munster 17h05 Stadio Monigo
Kings v Rebels 17h30 Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium
Connacht v Scarlets 18h35 Sportsground
Jaguares v Sharks 19h40 Buenos Aires
Sun, 30 April 2017
Brumbies v Blues 06h05 Canberra
RESULT SCORE
Sun, 23 April 2017
Clermont Auvergne v Leinster 27 | 22
Sat, 22 April 2017
Sharks v Rebels 9 | 9
Bulls v Cheetahs 20 | 14
Munster v Saracens 10 | 26
Force v Chiefs 7 | 16
Crusaders v Stormers 57 | 24
Highlanders v Sunwolves 40 | 15
Fri, 21 April 2017
Lions v Jaguares 24 | 21
Waratahs v Kings 24 | 26
Hurricanes v Brumbies 56 | 21
Mon, 17 April 2017
UP-Tuks v Maties 28 | 21
Sun, 16 April 2017
Bristol v Wasps 21 | 36
Northampton Saints v Saracens 25 | 27
Sat, 15 April 2017
Connacht v Leinster 24 | 37
Treviso v Edinburgh 21 | 6
SUPER RUGBY
MORE LOGS
Pool AU
Team P W D L Pts
Brumbies 8 3 0 5 17
Reds 8 2 0 6 10
Force 7 2 0 5 9
Waratahs 8 2 0 6 9
Rebels 7 1 1 5 7
Pool NZ
Team P W D L Pts
Crusaders 8 8 0 0 36
Hurricanes 8 7 0 1 33
Chiefs 8 7 0 1 33
Highlanders 8 5 0 3 23
Blues 8 3 0 5 17
Pool SA1
Team P W D L Pts
Stormers 8 6 0 2 26
Bulls 8 3 0 5 14
Cheetahs 8 2 0 6 10
Sunwolves 8 1 0 7 5
Pool SA2
Team P W D L Pts
Lions 8 7 0 1 32
Sharks 8 5 1 2 24
Jaguares 8 4 0 4 20
Kings 8 2 0 6 10