SOUTHERN Kings head coach Carlos Spencer has named a revamped team to play a Sharks XV in a Super Rugby friendly at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium on Friday (kick-off 7pm).
The most notable change is a new halfback pairing of former Italian test star Tobie Botes at scrumhalf with former Western Province pivot Gary van Aswegen, who starts at flyhalf.
Spencer says he wants to give as many players as possible a chance to shine in friendlies before the Currie Cup kicks off with a match against Western Province on August 8.
In other moves, highly-rated Siyanda Grey returns on the wing, Albe de Swardt replaces Edgar Marutlulle at hooker and prop Charl du Plessis starts in place of Simon Kerrod.
Another change in the front row sees Lizo Gqoboko starting in the place of BG Uys.
At lock David Bulbring gets a start in the place of Cameron Lindsay.
There are also new faces on the replacement bench in Baby Bok Sergeal Petersen, former Stade Francais hooker Michael van Vuuren and Ikeys forward Shaun McDonald.
Another change on the bench sees Enrico Acker coming in for Kevin Luiters.
The 30-year-old Botes, who has played 22 tests for Italy, will be keen to form a solid partnership with Van Aswegen ahead of the Currie Cup. Asked how close he was to settling on his starting lineup for the Currie Cup Spencer said: “We will see after Friday night. Guys have the chance to put their hands up.
“We are pretty much covered in all positions.
“A couple of positions still need cementing in terms of who we think are the right guys for the starting 15 in the Currie Cup.”
After the Sharks clash the Kings wind up their Currie Cup preparations with matches against the SWD Eagles and Free State.
The Kings team is: Lizo Gqoboko, Albe de Swardt, Charl du Plessis, Steven Cummins, David Bulbring, Thembelani Bholi, Devin Oosthuizen, Luke Watson (capt), Tobie Botes, Gary van Aswegen, Siviwe “Shakes” Soyizwapi, Shane Gates, Tim Whitehead, Siyanda Grey, Scott van Breda. Replacements: Michael van Vuuren, Tom Botha, Brenden Olivier, Cameron Lindsay, Shaun McDonald, Enrico Acker, George Whitehead, Sergeal Petersen. – George Byron