Kings start without Watson

Thu, 05 Jun 2014 14:51
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Veteran Darron Nell will captain the Eastern Province Kings when they take on the touring Welsh side in a mid-week fixture.

Veteran Darron Nell will captain the Eastern Province Kings when they take on the touring Welsh side in a mid-week fixture in Port Elizabeth on Tuesday.

Kings coach Carlos Spencer, who gave the first hint as to what his Currie Cup team may look like, has opted to delay the return of Springbok Luke Watson.

"We've decided to rest him and make sure that he has recovered from his injury one hundred percent," the retired All Black said.

"Luke has been working really hard these last three months and credit to him, he wanted to play, but I decided now is not the right time."

Spencer, despite not naming a number of the team's most recent recruits, felt he will be fielding a well-balanced team - which includes a number of the Kings senior players from last year.

"Most of the new guys [like Springbok prop CJ van der Linde and former Sharks centre Tim Whitehead] only arrived on Monday, so they still have a lot to learn in terms of information and the way we want to play the game," the Kiwi said, adding that they have fitted in really well at training.

The front row consists of Lizo Gqoboka, Charl du Plessis and Edgar Marutlulle. The latter played for the Southern Kings last year on loan from the Leopards and has now signed with the PE-based team.

Joining Nell at lock is NMMU Madibas player Cameron Lindsay, who made his debut for the EP Kings in the Vodacom Cup this year.

Thembalani Bholi and Devin Oosthuizen are the flanks, while Paul Schoeman comes at No.8.

The backs include new signing Kevin Luiters at scrumhalf and George Whitehead at flyhalf. Shane Gates and Ronnie Cooke make the centre pairing, with Scott van Breda and Siviwe Soyizwapi at left and right wing respectively.

Spencer said he would also be using the game to look at various player combinations, including fielding Hansie Graaf at fullback.

"I think we're very lucky, we have a great back three," the Kings' Kiwi coach said.

"Hansie is a pretty gifted player, we all know what Shakes [Soyizwapi] can do, and Scott he is a big boy, he can carry and he is quick. He offers us the option of an additional goal-kicker."

Spencer said this game is a bit early in the season.

"However, because its Wales we decided to take this on and it's a great opportunity, not only for us as a union, but for the players as well, especially the young guys.

"Our main goal is August 8, in the first Currie Cup game of the season against Western Province," said Spencer.

"We want to come out of this game fairly confident in what we've been trying to achieve over the last two or three months. I want to see the guys workrate, and see them working hard for each other.

"The guys have been working really hard and now they're really just looking forward to playing rugby. They're looking forward to getting out between the white lines and seeing what dividends all the hard work and preparation will bring."

Spencer said he was not sure what the Wales team would bring, but said he was expecting them to bring a very physical game.

"Wales is a great team and coached by a former All Black and New Zealander [Warren Gatland], so they're going to come here and play a good style of rugby which we like, so we're definitely looking forward to it," he said.

The Kings coach would be using the warm-up matches - they also play Super Rugby friendlies against the Bulls (June 20) and the Sharks (July 4) - to assess his players ahead of the Currie Cup.

"We really want to see what the guys are capable of and to gain some confidence and continuity," he said.

Spencer said it was a great opportunity for the Kings players to test themselves against a top international side, although they would be concentrating more on their own performances.

"Honestly, we have not spoken much about Wales and want to focus on our own structures," he said.

"But we know they are a great team who will play a good style of rugby."

Eastern Province Kings: 15 Hansie Greeff, 14 Siviwe Soyizwapi, 13 Ronnie Cooke, 12 Shane Gates, 11 Scott van Breda, 10 George Whitehead, 9 Kevin Luiters, 8 Paul Schoeman, 7 Devin Oosthuizen, 6 Thembelani Bholi, 5 Cameron Lindsay, 4 Darron Nell (captain), 3 Charl du Plessis, 2 Edgar Marutlulle, 1 Lizo Gqoboka.
Replacements: 16 Albe de Swardt, 17 BG Uys, 18 Simon Kerrod, 19 Steven Cummins, 19 Stefan Willemse, 20 Jaco Grobler, 21 Dwayne Jenner, 22 Ntabeni Dukisa.

Date: Tuesday, June 10
Venue: Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium, Port Elizabeth
Kick-off: 19.00 (17.00 GMT; 18.00 UK time)
Referee: Lourens van der Merwe
Assistant referees: Christie du Preez, Rodney Boneparte
TMO: Jason Jaftha

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