INJURY has forced the EP Kings to make a change at the pivotal position of flyhalf for Saturday’s crunch Absa Currie Cup Premier Division match against the Golden Lions.
Regular flyhalf Gary van Aswegen has been ruled out by a recurring groin strain which means George Whitehead will move up from the bench to make his first Currie Cup start of the season.
After slumping to defeats in their opening three matches against Western Province, Lions and Bulls, the Kings are desperate to record their first win against a classy Lions outfit at Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium (kick-off 7.10pm).
“We are hoping Gary will be fit in a week and we will reassess him at training on Monday,” Kings head coach Carlos Spencer said.
“Gary has had a recurring groin injury for the past few weeks and it has gradually got worse. So it is important that we manage him and look after that groin and get it back to 100% or close to that.
“It has been affecting Gary’s kicking and that is why he has not been taking the goal kicks.”
Whitehead is an experienced campaigner and was part of the Southern Kings’ Super Rugby squad last season, though he spent most of the time as understudy to Demetri Catrakilis.
This season Whitehead started in the international friendly against Wales and the Super Rugby friendlies but he was relegated to the bench after Van Aswegen was signed from Western Province.
In another change, prop Lizo Gqoboka has been given a break and his place will be taken by BG Uys for Saturday’s showdown.
“Our forwards coach Shaun Sowerby recommended that we give Lizo a break this weekend because he has gone through a lot of work in terms of pre-season, and BG deserves this opportunity. He has been waiting in the wings and now he has his chance,” Spencer said.
There are doubts as to whether centre Tim Whitehead will recover from a knock he took to the knee against the Bulls and a decision on his fitness will be taken today.
Another change sees loose forward Thembelani Bholi taking the place of Stefan Willemse, who moves to the bench.
Baby Bok Aidon Davis has recovered from a bout of flu and he takes over the No8 position from skipper Luke Watson who will be out of action for at least four weeks after suffering concussion against the Bulls.
It had not been decided who would take over as captain.
“If [Tim Whitehead] does not play then Ronnie Cooke will fill in and Siyanda Grey will go to the wing.”
The Eastern Province Kings team: BG Uys, Edgar Marutlulle, Tom Botha, David Bulbring, Steven Sykes, Thembelani Bholi, Paul Schoeman, Aidon Davis, Kevin Luiters, George Whitehead, Siviwe Soyizwapi, Shane Gates, Tim Whitehead/Ronnie Cooke, Ronnie Cooke/Siyanda Grey, Scott van Breda. Replacements: Michael van Vuuren, Charles Marais, Shaun McDonald, Stefan Willemse, Tobie Botes, Siyanda Grey/Dwayne Jenner, Ntabeni Dukisa. – George Byron