Cronje to lead Kings against Lions
TEAM ANNOUNCEMENT: Southern Kings pivot Lionel Cronje, who has been vice-captain of the side from the start of the campaign, will take charge as captain against the Lions at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium.
Regular captain Schalk Ferreira sustained a biceps injury last weekend against the Sharks and underwent surgery on Tuesday, ruling the loosehead prop out of action for the next three months.
"I've chosen Lionel for this game as captain," said Kings head coach Deon Davids.
"As I said to him and the rest of the team, I will do some stock-taking after this game. Lionel has been around a long time and he understands what is expected of him in Super Rugby.
"He has been a central part of our leadership group until now. From a performance point of view, he has also played some good rugby. It's a good opportunity for him. It is a natural thing, as vice-captain, to take this position."
Cronje expressed his excitement at being given the responsibility as well as the team's disappointment at the loss of Ferreira.
"It is an honour and privilege to be given the opportunity to lead such a great team," Cronje said about his appointment.
"The circumstances, however, given the loss of a quality leader like Schalk, are not ideal. We are privileged to have a group of leaders in the team; therefore the responsibility of playing a leading role does not lie solely with me.
"I look forward to leading the team with our leadership group. We also wish Schalk the best in his recovery."
Davids has made three changes to his starting XV that narrowly went down 17-19 to the Sharks last weekend.
The injury to Ferreira has given an opportunity for a starting berth for the experienced Schalk van der Merwe at loosehead prop.
Hooker Kurt Haupt will also get an opportunity to start this week ahead of Michael Willemse, who started in the No.2 jersey in the past four matches.
Malcolm Jaer makes a return to the team this week starting at fullback as Masixole Banda is given a break this weekend.
Martin Bezuidenhout, who has been bracketed on the bench, alongside Willemse, as back-up at hooker, will make his 50th Super Rugby appearance should he make it onto the field on Saturday.
Southern Kings: 15 Malcolm Jaer, 14 Makazole Mapimpi, 13 Berton Klaasen, 12 Waylon Murray, 11 Alshaun Bock, 10 Lionel Cronje (captain), 9 Louis Schreuder, 8 Ruaan Lerm, 7 Andisa Ntsila, 6 Chris Cloete, 5 Wilhelm van der Sluys, 4 Irne Herbst, 3 Ross Geldenhuys, 2 Kurt Haupt, 1 Schalk van der Merwe.
Replacements: 16 Michael Willemse, 17 Chris Heiberg, 18 Justin Forwood, 19 Tyler Paul, 20 Stefan Willemse, 21 Johan Steyn, 22 Pieter-Steyn de Wet, 23 Luzuko Vulindlu.
Date: Saturday, March 25
Venue: Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium, Port Elizabeth
Kick-off: 15.05 (13.05 GMT)
Referee: Quinton Immelman (South Africa)
Assistant referees: Rasta Rasivhenge (South Africa), Egon Seconds (South Africa)
TMO: Shaun Veldsman (South Africa)