AMBITIOUS EP Kings Currie Cup head coach Carlos Spencer has vowed that his team will be the fittest when the Currie Cup Premier Division kicks off in August.
The Kings have been busy on a two-month conditioning phase which will ensure that the players are in peak physical condition when the team return to the top flight after a 12-year absence.
“I have got no doubt that we’ll be the fittest team in the Currie Cup, but that doesn’t mean anything because you still have to play and win your games,” Spencer said.
With anticipation building towards the Kings opening Currie Cup match against Western Province in August, all eyes will be on the Kings when they take to the field against Wales in their first warm-up match.
The high profile friendly against Wales on June 10 at Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium will give Spencer and his coaching staff a good chance to watch their players perform against top class opposition.
“The game against Wales is probably a bit too early for us, to be honest. But it is a great game in terms for the youngsters in the squad to gain experience,” Spencer said.
The Kings had been hoping to arrange a warm-up game ahead of the Wales showdown, but this is unlikely to happen.
Former Springbok No8 Shaun Sowerby has been signed as the new Kings forwards coach and together with Michael Horak (defence coach) and Spencer they will try to develop a winning Currie Cup strategy.
It is expected that hooker Michael van Vuuren (Stade Francais) and lock Izak van der Westhuizen (Edinburgh) and Hansie Graaff and Tim Whitehead (both Sharks) will make their debuts for the Kings against Wales.
Other newcomers who could feature against the Welshmen are scrumhalf Kevin Luiters and Samoan wing Paul Perez who is presently undergoing a conditioning phase after a knee operation.
After the Wales game, the Kings face the Bulls in a Super Rugby friendly on June 21 in Port Elizabeth and the Springboks clash with Scotland in a test on June 28 at Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium.
“This is obviously a great opportunity for us in terms of preparing for our entry into the Currie Cup Premier Division with the chance to test ourselves against an internationally competitive team as highly rated as Wales,” Kings chief executive Charl Crous said.
Wales are playing their first test match against South Africa in Durban on June 14, before heading to Nelspruit a week later for the second test.
“It is going to be a festival, with three international teams – the Boks, Scotland and Wales – playing at our stadium,” Crous said. – George Byron