THE EP Kings have rolled out several big guns from their high performance Currie Cup Premier Division training squad for their key Vodacom Cup match against a Free State 15 in Cradock on Saturday.
No fewer than nine changes have been made to the starting 15 after the Kings slumped to a heavy 56-22 defeat against Western Province in Cape Town on Saturday. For the Cradock showdown, the Kings will have a new halfback pairing of scrumhalf Jaco Grobler and flyhalf George Whitehead who featured for the Southern Kings earlier this year in the Super Rugby friendlies.
Speedy wing Sergeal Petersen has also been called up to the starting lineup, while lock Rynier Bernardo returns after being given off last weekend to attend a wedding.
“This is the best team I could field for the Vodacom Cup with a good balance between the experienced guys and the youngsters,” Kings head Vodacom Cup head coach Mzwandile Stick said.
The Kings will be led by flank Paul Schoeman, who has impressed with his leadership qualities.
“The guys coming back from the high performance squad, where they have been working with Currie Cup head coach Carlos Spencer, all have experience and know what is required of them. They know what it takes to be on top,” Stick said.
All eyes will be on promising 19- year-old centre Luan Nieuwoudt, who will be playing his first game for the senior team in Cradock.
“The only player with not much experience is Luan, who has the potential to become one of the best inside centres from this region,” Stick said. “Luan has played EP under-19 and is part of our academy.
“The Vodacom Cup is a good platform to bring young players through.”
After three games the standings in the South Section are: Sharks (13), SWD Eagles (12), Free State (11), Western Province (9), EP Kings (6), Tusker Simba XV (5), Border Bulldogs (4), Boland Cavaliers (0).
The Kings team: Lizo Gqoboka, Albe de Swardt, Charl du Plessis, Stephan Zaayman, Rynier Bernardo, Thembelani Bholi, Paul Schoeman (capt), Aidon Davis, Jaco Grobler, George Whitehead, Selvyn Davids, Luan Nieuwoudt, Brian Skosana, Sergeal Petersen, Masixole Banda. Replacements: Dane van der Westhuyzen, BG Uys, Taylor Paul, Siphesihle Punguzwa, Sonwabo Majola, Siphumelelo Msutwana, Ntabeni Dukisa. – George Byron