INJURIES and the desire to experiment with their backline have resulted in the Southern Kings naming a revamped starting lineup for their Super Rugby friendly against the Stormers at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium on Friday night (kick-off 7pm).
Giant lock Steven Sykes will lead the Kings after regular skipper Darron Nell was ruled out because of an elbow injury he sustained against the Lions last Saturday.
Adding extra spice to the clash is the inclusion of former Kings stars Demetri Catrakilis and Scott van Breda in a star-studded Stormers lineup led by Schalk Burger.
“Backline coach Carlos Spencer has decided to go in with a few variations in the backline,” Kings caretaker head coach Robbi Kempson said when he named the team.
“Carlos wants to see what he has out there. He has seen the other players in the initial games and he is very happy with the way they went and their progress.”
Sonwabo Majola will start at scrumhalf, which means that Jaco Grobler, who impressed in the opening matches, moves to the bench.
Other changes in the back division see Eben Barnard starting in the place of Michael Killian and Dwayne Jenner taking the place of Ronnie Cooke.
In the pack, BG Uys was not considered for the game because he is getting married, and hooker Albe de Swardt comes in for Dane van der Westhuyzen, who dislocated his elbow against the Lions. Uys’s place has been taken by Brendon Olivier.
“Sykes is a very good stand-in for Darron and an obvious choice,” Kempson said.
“He has a wealth of experience and the way he plays commands respect on the field from the opposition and his own players alike.”
Kempson does not feel the changes will be disruptive for his team as they prepare to face their biggest challenge of the season.
“All the players know our mapping and structures and we have to make sure there is continuity. [George] Whitehead brings that at flyhalf with Shane Gates at inside centre so that combination is still there. Majola gets a chance to see if he can take a step up to what is certainly the big league,” Kempson said.
The curtain-raiser is between Spring Rose and Police and it will kick off at 4.30pm.
Southern Kings: Brendon Olivier, Albe de Swardt, Charl du Plessis, Steven Sykes, Rynier Bernardo, Paul Schoeman, Stephan Zaayman, Devin Oosthuizen, Sonwabo Majola, George Whitehead, Eben Barnard, Shane Gates, Dwayne Jenner, Sergeal Petersen, Sviwe Soyizwapi. Replacements: JC Oberholzer, Lizo Gqoboka, Pieter Stemmet, Stephan Greeff, Thembelani Bholi, Kevin Kaba, Tyler Paul, Jaco Grobler, Ronnie Cooke, Michael Killian, Brian Skosana.
Stormers: Jaco Taute, Kobus van Wyk, Michael van der Spuy, Damian de Allende, Scott van Breda, Demetri Catrakilis, Nic Groom, Duane Vermeulen, Schalk Burger (capt), Siya Kolisi, Manuel Carizza, Rynhardt Elstadt, Frans Malherbe, Scarra Ntubeni, Steven Kitshoff. Replacements: Deon Fourie, Oliver Kebble, Pat Cilliers, Michael Rhodes, Jean Kleyn, Nizaam Carr, Sikhumbuzo Notshe, Louis Schreuder, Gary van Aswegen, Pat Howard, Devon Williams, Ryno Eksteen.