YOUNG Southern Kings centre Shane Gates says he has always dreamed of playing in a crunch game like tonight’s Super Rugby promotion-relegation showdown against the Lions.
A former Muir College pupil, Gates, 20, has been thrown in at the deep end after regular inside centre Andries Strauss was ruled out of the clash at Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium because of a broken hand.
“These are the sort of things that come with being a professional rugby player. They are big occasions and there are the consequences of losing,” Gates said.
“It is this sort of occasion that made me want to be a rugby player. So, it is going to be a big day and I am really looking forward to it.”
Gates is highly rated by the Kings coaching staff and director of rugby Alan Solomons believes the rising star has the temperament needed to shine at the top level.
The young centre will be required to be strong on both attack and defence, and he is aware that tackling will be one of the key roles he has to fulfil.
“You must have a good attitude on defence and work hard on that side of the game. In that aspect I can use my age, with extra energy, to my advantage,” Gates said.
“I am aware of all the roles I have to play against the Lions and I am ready for the challenge.”
Gates said there was a lot of emotion going into tonight’s clash that would be crucial and that training had been good.
“The Kings have stepped up to a Super Rugby mindset. The young players have learnt and fed off the experienced players who perform at a high intensity.
“I have learnt a lot in the past season and I am learning every day.”