EP KINGS skipper Darron Nell has warned his new-look team Wales will come out with all guns blazing in an international rugby friendly at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium tonight. In the old days when touring teams arrived in Port Elizabeth before a test they always expected a stern “softening-up examination” by their hosts, and tonight’s clash should be no different.
Though Wales have rested several of their best players for Saturday’s test against the Springboks in Durban, the “dirt-tackers” will certainly have much to play for, buoyed by pulling on the Welsh jersey.
“Most of the guys starting against us won’t be in the Wales test line-up for Saturday,” Nell said.
“So a lot of the Welsh boys will be going out to prove what they have, so they can possibly get a start in the second test.
“They will come out with all guns blazing,” he warned.
Kings head coach Carlos Spencer is also expecting his team to face Welsh fire tonight.
“I am not sure what to expect from the Welsh, but they have a test match coming up so I am sure they will come here and be physical,” he said.
“The Welsh team is not a bad side, but we have not focused on them. It is all about us and what we are trying to create.
“To be honest we have not mentioned the opposition. Wales are a great team and they will come here and play a good style of rugby. The guys are looking forward to it.
“I think this game is a bit early in the season, but because it is Wales we have decided to take it on. It is a great opportunity for the union and the players,” Spencer said.
The Kings backs for tonight include new signing Kevin Luiters at scrumhalf and George Whitehead at flyhalf.
The exciting Shane Gates and Ronnie Cooke are the centre pairing, with Scott van Breda and Siviwe “Shakes” 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 Graaff at fullback.
“I think we’re very lucky, we have a great back three. Hansie is a pretty gifted player, we all know what Shakes can do, and Scott, he is a big boy, he can carry and he is quick and offers us an extra goal kicker as well.
“So I’m looking forward to seeing what they can do together,” he said.
Welsh coach Warren Gatland said he would be interested to see how his team would handle the pressure against a Kings team who would be out to prove a point.
Wales will be led by flank Dan Lydiate, who has played for the British and Irish Lions.
“It’s an opportunity to see a number of our squad pull on the Wales jersey and represent their country, and see how they handle the game and the pressure against the Kings,” Gatland said.
On the bench Matthew Rees is named in a Wales squad for the first time since February last year and he is joined by fellow front-row replacements Aaron Jarvis and Samson Lee. Luke Charteris and Aaron Shingler complete the forward contingent.
Uncapped Gareth Davies is named among the replacements, along with George North and Liam Williams.
EP Kings: Lizo Gqoboka, Edgar Marutlulle, Charl du Plessis, Darron Nell (capt), Cameron Lindsay, Thembelani Bholi, Devin Oosthuizen, Paul Schoeman, Kevin Luiters, George Whitehead, Scott van Breda, Shane Gates, Ronnie Cooke, Siviwe Soyizwapi, Hansie Graaff. Replacements: Albe de Swardt, BG Uys, Simon Kerrod, Steven Cummins, Stefan Willemse, Jaco Grobler, Dwayne Jenner, Ntabeni Dukisa.
Wales: Matthew Morgan (Ospreys), Alex Cuthbert (Cardiff Blues), Cory Allen (Cardiff Blues), Steven Shingler (Scarlets), Jordan Williams (Scarlets), James Hook (Perpignan), Rhodri Williams (Scarlets), Paul James (Bath), Scott Baldwin (Ospreys), Rhodri Jones (Scarlets), Jake Ball (Scarlets), Ian Evans (Ospreys), Dan Lydiate (capt) (Racing Metro), Josh Turnbull (Scarlets), Dan Baker (Ospreys). Replacements: Matthew Rees (Cardiff Blues), Aaron Jarvis (Ospreys), Samson Lee (Scarlets), Luke Charteris (Perpignan), Aaron Shingler (Scarlets), Gareth Davies (Scarlets), George North (Northampton Saints), Liam Williams (Scarlets).
Referee: Lourens van der Merwe
Kick-off: 7pm – George Byron