Watson out for the year
The Southern Kings will be without captain Luke Watson for the remainder of their Super Rugby campaign.
The Southern Kings will be without captain Luke Watson for the remainder of their Super Rugby campaign due to an ankle injury.
Watson, who has suffered a litany of injuries this year, is to undergo ankle surgery - which will see him sidelined for the rest of the year.
The Kings skipper was assessed by one of the foremost ankle specialists in Cape Town on Tuesday
Following the surgery he will undergo months of rehabilitation.
"He will be out for six months," Lings Director of Rugby Alan Solomons said.
Solomons announced that centre Andries Strauss will captain the Kings for the rest of the season, while lock Darron Nell would be the deputy for the Bulls' match at the weekend - in the absence of the injured Steven Sykes.
Solomons said he believed the Eastern Cape outfit would be able to handle the absence of Watson after several setbacks prevented him from playing for much of the year.
"Luke is an excellent player, and an excellent leader, but unfortunately this season, Luke has just had a litany of injuries. He’s just had really bad luck. The first half of last year he didn’t play, then at the end of last year he hurt his ankle against the Leopards in the semifinal [of the First Division competition last year]," Solomons said.
"He suffered a throat injury against the Western Force and the ankle has still been worrying him. The consequence is that, through no fault of Luke’s, he has just not been able to play much rugby this year.
"So what has happened is that the team has had to play without him, and Andries has had to step into the breach and has done a magnificent job, and we are fortunate to have guys like him and Darron here," he said.
Solomons said that Watson’s presence would be missed.
"Of course we miss him, but we have had to play a lot of the Super Rugby without him as a necessity because of his injuries," he said.
In Watson's absence, Cornell du Preez, Wimpie van der Walt and Jacques Engelbrecht will handle the loose trio duties, as they have been doing for much of the season.
Centre Ronnie Cooke turned over an ankle in training this week, but he has been named in the team and Solomons said he was sure he would be fit for Saturday's clash.
However, in the event that Cooke was not able to play, Waylon Murray would be called up in his place.
Solomons also announced that Michael Killian would be returning to wing.
"Michael comes in on the right wing, he is now completely over his injury problems, and this presents a real opportunity for him to play. He is a local boy and it’s great to have him back. I know he’s champing at the bit to play," he said.
Solomons said that neither young star Sergeal Petersen nor Siyanda Grey had been selected for the squad, as concerns over their respective injuries still lingered.
"Siyanda and Sergeal were not considered. The medical staff feel that they should not be rushed back. That said, Sergeal is coming along nicely now and took part in [Monday's] practice session and seemed to be running a lot more freely, which is a big positive," he said.
Southern Kings: 15 SP Marais, 14 Marcello Sampson, 13 Ronnie Cooke, 12 Andries Strauss (captain), 11 Michael Killian, 10 Demetri Catrakilis, 9 Shaun Venter, 8 Jacques Engelbrecht, 7 Wimpie van der Walt, 6 Cornell du Preez, 5 Darron Nell, 4 David Bulbring, 3 Kevin Buys, 2 Bandise Maku, 1 Schalk Ferreira.
Replacements: 16 Grant Kemp, 17 Hannes Franklin, 18 Rynier Bernardo, 19 Devin Oosthuizen, 20 Nicolas Vergallo, 21 George Whitehead, 22 Shane Gates.
Date: Saturday, June 29
Venue: Loftus Versfeld, Pretoria
Kick-off: 17.05 (15.05 GMT)
Referee: Lourens van der Merwe (South Africa)
Assistant referees: Jaco van Heerden (South Africa), Cobus Wessels (South Africa)
TMO: Gerrie Coetzee (South Africa)