Preview: EP Kings v Wales
Mon, 09 Jun 2014 12:17
Testing the waters
Wales' three-match tour of South Africa is set for a rousing start, when the visitors tackle the Eastern Province Kings at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium in Port Elizabeth on Tuesday.
The Welsh Dragons will be sharpening their claws for the much more daunting task of taking on the Springboks in a two-Test series - in Durban this coming Saturday, June 14, and Nelspruit a week later, June 21.
For the home team's players it is about staking a claim for berths in the starting line-up when the Currie Cup season gets under way in August.
Dan Lydiate will captain Wales in their opening game after recovering from a hamstring injury, and coach Warren Gatland is keen to see how his charges perform.
"It's an opportunity to see a number of squad pull on the Wales jersey and represent their country and see how they handle the game and the pressure," Gatland said.
"We know how tough the next few weeks are going to be and that starts on Tuesday, and we have to be prepared for a big game and hit the ground running. We were keen to have this match, to experience a short turn around and replicate what we will face at the World Cup next year.
"That preparation is well under way and Tuesday is a great opportunity for players who have impressed this season and at the trial to stake their claim on the international stage."
Lydiate will lead a squad that includes all four uncapped players who have made the journey to South Africa.
Three of those players have been named in the starting XV, with Matthew Morgan lining up at fullback, Steven Shingler at inside centre and Jordan Williams on the wing.
They are joined in the backline by Cardiff Blues duo Alex Cuthbert and Cory Allen, as well as James Hook and Rhodri Williams at half back.
In the pack, Paul James has been named alongside Scott Baldwin and Rhodri Jones in the front row, with Jake Ball and Ian Evans in the second row. Lydiate is joined by Scarlets Josh Turnbull at flank with Dan Baker at No 8.
Meanwhile, new signing Hansie Graaff said the EP Kings will be anxious to make a huge statement as they look ahead to their return to the Currie Cup competition.
Graaff, formerly of the Sharks, is one of a number of new faces in a Kings team to that will face the Welsh.
"It is an exhibition match so there is no pressure on us, but we also do not want to look like fools," Graaff, who will play at fullback, said.
"We are going out to try and make a huge statement to Wales and the other Currie Cup teams as well.
"I am positive that we will be well supported. We are smaller than Wales so we need a 16th man."
After a 12-year absence from the top flight, the Kings return to the Currie Cup - when they face Western Province at Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium on August 8.
Tuesday's game against Wales is one of the three warm-up matches, the other two being against the Bulls on June 20 and the Sharks on July 4.
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.
Wales: 15 Matthew Morgan, 14 Alex Cuthbert, 13 Cory Allen, 12 Steven Shingler, 11 Jordan Williams, 10 James Hook, 9 Rhodri Williams, 8 Dan Baker, 7 Josh Turnbull, 6 Dan Lydiate (captain), 5 Ian Evans, 4 Jake Ball, 3 Rhodri Jones, 2 Scott Baldwin, Paul James.
Replacements: 16 Matthew Rees, 17 Aaron Jarvis, 18 Samson Lee, 19 Luke Charteris, 20 Aaron Shingler, 21 Gareth Davies, 22 George North, 23 Liam Williams.
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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