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Kings ready to 'tackle' the Brumbies

Wed, 03 Apr 2013 07:18
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Our passing efficiency was 95 percent
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The Southern Kings may have been brave on defence all season, but on Friday they will be tested like never before.

Alan Solomons, the Kings' Director of Rugby, admitted that facing the tournament leaders, the Brumbies, in Canberra will present his inexperienced outfit with an entirely new set of challenges.

The biggest of these will be on defence, where the Super Rugby rookies' structures will face its biggest examination of the first eight weeks.

"The Brumbies have a very different approach, certainly to the New Zealand sides we played against," Solomons told this website in an interview from the team's base in Canberra.

He admitted that the presence of World Cup-winning former Springbok coach Jake White has added a good measure of South African hardiness to the Brumbies' famous ball-in-hand approach.

"They [the Brumbies] are obviously a very, very physical side and play direct football," Solomons said.

The Kings boss admitted that they "always have to take note" of what our opposition do.

"There are areas in our game which we felt we could have done much better in when we have a look [back] at the game against the Hurricanes and to some extend the game against the Crusaders," Solomons told this website.

"We feel there are aspects of our defence that we can really improve.

"Also our breakdown, attack and defence [at the] breakdown, we feel we can really work on that area and improve that aspect of our game.

"We feel that both those aspects [defence and breakdown] are very important going into a game against a team like the Brumbies."

He added that they have made "very good progress" as far as possession and territory is concerned - especially against the Hurricanes last week.

"What was also pleasing is that our passing efficiency was 95 percent, which was superior to theirs [the Hurricanes].

"We landed up having to make a lot less tackles, only 140 [as opposed to the weekly average of 165 in the preceding weeks].

"As I said, the work-on for us this week will definitely be aspects of our defence and breakdown."

It is the Brumbies ability to retains the ball through many phases that really puts pressure on any defence and this is where the Kings will have to be on top of their game.

"They are very similar to the Crusaders in that regard," Solomons said, adding: "You saw the Crusaders against the Stormers, who have a very good defence. They [the Crusaders] were able to retain the ball phase after phase after phase.

"The Brumbies are very, very similar in that regard.

"We have taken note and prepared accordingly."

The efficiency of the Brumbies have ensured they will present a major challenge to the tournament rookies.

It means the Kings will have their work cut out to start picking up some points - having not earned a single point, apart from those arbitrary four points for a bye, since their First Round win over the Western Force.

In their last three matches they have shipped 15 points and 17 tries.

"We have always focussed on performance," Solomons said when asked how important it is to start collecting points, adding: " If we look at the games we played, we have played massively strong opposition.

"After the Force we played the Sharks, who lost in the Final, we played the Chiefs, who won the competition last year, the Crusaders, who - even without Dan Carter, Richie McCaw and Kieran Read - beat the Stormers, and even the Hurricanes have about six or seven All Blacks.

"We were really up against it in terms of the strength of our opposition.

"In terms of how we performed, what I have heard in both New Zealand and since we've been here in Australia people have been positive about our performances and we have certainly come out of those games with credit.

"If we keep putting in the performances we will eventually reap the rewards."

Solomons said that in terms of injuries they are not in bad shape.

Other than New Zealand Hadleigh Parkes, who underwent surgery after fracturing his arm last week, there isn't anybody that won't be considered for selection for this week.

The Kings boss said they won't consider replacement Siviwe Soyizwapi this week.

"He [Soyizwapi] has just come across [to Australia]," Solomons said, adding: "He only arrived on Monday and the protocol is that Tuesday we did all the recovery stuff with him.

"At a push he could play, but we would be unfair to him to consider him at this point - we'll consider him for next week [against the Rebels]."

The 20-year-old Soyizwapi flew out of Port Elizabeth on Sunday, and joined the team in Sydney on Monday afternoon, Australian time.

Soyizwapi played for the Border Bulldogs at the Under-18 Academy Week in 2010, earning a call-up to the South African U18 High Performance team, before joining the Kings Academy. He played for EP Under-21 in 2012, before making his professional debut in the 2012 Currie Cup Promotion/Relegation series against the Free State Cheetahs.

Other injury concerns this week included Shaun Venter, who had a slightly sprained ankle and was being rested until Thursday before rejoining training, while captain Andries Strauss had bruised his shoulder.

Prop Schalk Ferreira also took a bit of a knock to the chest.

However, they will all feature against the Brumbies.

By Jan de Koning

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