‘Expect aerial contest’

George Byron

SOUTHERN Kings skipper Andries Strauss says it is vital his team match the Bulls’ “finely tuned” kicking game when the sides clash at Loftus Versfeld tomorrow.

“The Bulls have always had a good kicking game and in Morne Steyn they have one of the best kicking flyhalves in the world,” Strauss warned.

Steyn will start on the bench tomorrow and talented Louis Fouche gets a chance to start for the top-placed team in the South African conference.

It is only Fouche’s second start of the season and he will be keen to show he is an able understudy to Steyn.

“We are expecting the same [kicking game] from them in Pretoria and playing at altitude the ball travels a bit further and they will use that to their advantage,” Strauss said.

“But having said that, it is a challenge we must and can match. If we can match their kicking game by playing in the right part of the field it would then come down to a physical confrontation.

“If the boys can stand up to that then we can expect a good game of rugby.”

Kings pivot Demetri Catrakilis has been in fine form this season and his kicking out of hand will be vital if the Kings are to stand their ground against the star-studded Bulls.

Asked about the explosive attacking qualities of young Bulls stars Jan Serfontein and JJ Engelbrecht (who starts on the bench), Strauss described them as outstanding players.

“Jan Serfontein is a unique player and he showed his talent throughout his school career. He was always going to play for the Springboks.

“Engelbrecht is also one of those players who has no regard for his body and plays hard. Those two boys are young and fast, and combine well.”

After the Bulls match, the Kings round off their Super Rugby season with home games against the Stormers and Sharks before a doube-header promotion-relegation showdown against the Lions.

The Kings skipper said his team took a lot out of the game when they lost 34-0 to the Bulls earlier in the season.

“We have learnt from those mistakes and, hopefully, we can execute well at Loftus and play on the right side of the field and get a better result than we did in Port Elizabeth.”

Southern Kings director of rugby Alan Solomons said the mood in the Kings camp was “extremely positive”.

Tomorrow’s teams:

Southern Kings: SP Marais, Marcello Sampson, Ronnie Cooke, Andries Strauss (capt), Michael Killian, Demetri Catrakilis, Shaun Venter, Schalk Ferreira, Bandise Maku, Kevin Buys, Cornell du Preeez, Darron Nell, David Bulbring, Wimpie van der Walt, Jacques Engelbrecht. Replacements: Grant Kemp, Hannes Franklin, Rynier Bernardo, Devin Oosthuizen, Nicolas Vergallo, George Whitehead, Shane Gates

Bulls: Zane Kirchner Akona Ndungane, Jan Serfontein, Wynand Olivier, Bjorn Basson Louis Fouche, Francois Hougaard Dewald Potgieter (capt), Jacques Potgieter, Deon Stegmann, Grant Hattingh, Flip van der Merwe Werner Kruger, Chiliboy Ralepelle, Dean Greyling. Replacements: Willie Wepener, Frik Kirsten, Juandre Kruger, Jono Ross, Rudy Paige, Morne Steyn, JJ Engelbrecht

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