Confidence high as Kings jet off on demanding tour

George Byron

THE Southern Kings jetted out of Port Elizabeth yesterday for their month-long tour of New Zealand and Australia with their confidence sky high.

This was after the Eastern Cape team almost pulled off a shock win against last year’s Super Rugby winners, the Chiefs, on Friday.

But ahead of the Kings’ departure, the players had more than just rugby on their minds as they contemplated what a hamburger would cost because of punishing exchange rates and whether their cellphones would work “Down Under”.

“The younger members have been asking a lot of questions ahead of the tour,” Kings vice-captain Andries Strauss, a veteran of several overseas tours, said.

It has been calculated that the Kings will fly a staggering36000km during this year’s Super Rugby tournament that will take them to Australia, New Zealand and around South Africa.

Their tough away leg features matches against the Crusaders, the Hurricanes, the Brumbies and the Melbourne Rebels.

Strauss said: “It is good to have an overseas tour early in the season – especially when you are a new team. Away from home, you have to rely on one another more than when you are at home.

“While on tour we will be looking to build the team into a stronger unit so we can get some results,” he added.

Kings director of rugby Alan Solomons said even though his team had lost 35-24 to the Chiefs, they had played with great courage and commitment in front of 30882 fans at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium.

“We will take the confidence of our showing against the Chiefs with us on what promises to be a very tough tour.”

Solomons said regular skipper Luke Watson had not yet fully recovered from a throat injury so they were not risking taking him on tour.

The Kings will get valuable advice on conditions from head coach Matt Sexton, a former New Zealander who played for the Crusaders.

The Kings’ tour programme is: v Crusaders, AMI Stadium in Christchurch, Saturday at 8.35am; v Hurricanes, Westpac Stadium in Wellington, March 30 at 5.35am; v Brumbies, Canberra Stadium in Canberra, April 5 at 10.40am; v Rebels, AAMI Park in Melbourne, April 13 at 11.40am.

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