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Kings having a 'close look' at Sharks

Thu, 07 Mar 2013 21:38
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The bye probably came at a fairly opportune moment
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With the euphoria of their debut win against the Western Force having been exchanged for reality, the Southern Kings are  now plotting the downfall of a much bigger fish.

After their impressive 22-10 win over the Force in Week Two, the Kings had a bye last week - time to reflect and let emotions settle.

On Saturday they welcome one of the tournament's top teams, the Sharks - beaten finalists in 2012 and a side loaded with international stars.

The visitors will field a starting XV with 10 Springboks and another three internationals on the bench.

In stark contrast the Kings have just two Boks in the starting XV, a player who once sat on the Bok bench without being used and a third Bok - their captain Luke Watson - on the bench and currently under an injury cloud.

The irony is that most of the Kings with Bok connections - Andries Strauss, Steven Sykes (an unused replacement in 2009)  and Luke Watson - formerly played for the Sharks.

But the Kings know all about being underdogs and are ready to take on the challenge again.

"It was a massive game and a big occasion," Director of Rugby Alan Solomons told this website, when asked about their debut a fortnight ago.

"The bye probably came at a fairly opportune moment," he said, adding: "We were able to prepare well and we were afforded the chance to wait an extra couple of days for guys to recover from the bumps and bruises.

"We have certainly been able to plan in the intervening period pretty well."

In the build-up to the encounter with the Force it was mostly about the emotion of the occasion.

Now it is about rugby for the Kings.

"We've always been aware that we are in a very potent competition," the Kings boss said.

"The opening game was important for a variety of reasons.

"However, the Sharks were beaten finalists last year - they are obviously a top-flight outfit with a number of international players.

"We know it is going to be a very, very tough game for us."

Solomons admitted they could change their approach for the Sharks, given that heart and defence were key characteristics of their win over the Force.

"One has a close look at how you want to approach a particular game," he said, adding: "The Sharks are a powerful, very physical outfit."

He was well aware that his team will have to make a huge step up in terms of physicality.

"The Force showed, against the Bulls, that they can compete and were perhaps unfortunate not to come away with a little more than they did [from Pretoria].

"Certainly the Sharks are one of the leading teams in the competition and I would say it is definitely going to be a step up physically."

By Jan de Koning

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