Van Aswegen tipped to start for Kings

FIRST CHOICE?: Flyhalf Gary van Aswegen warms up during an EP Kings training session yesterday
FIRST CHOICE?: Flyhalf Gary van Aswegen warms up during an EP Kings training session yesterday

GARY van Aswegen could start at flyhalf for the EP Kings when they kick off their Vodacom Cup campaign against Griquas at NMB Stadium on Saturday.

The pivot started from the bench when the Kings beat a Golden Lions XV 13-8 in a friendly on Saturday and impressed with his all-round play.

The former Western Province flyhalf was top choice for the Kings last season and judging from the training routines the Kings went through yesterday, Van Aswegen looks set to pull the strings against Griquas.

There is healthy competition for the flyhalf berth in the Kings team this season since the arrival of Blue Bulls pivot Tony Jantjies, who started against the Lions on Saturday.

George Whitehead, who started for the Kings in their opening friendly against the Cheetahs, could find himself on the bench in preference to Jantjies on Saturday because he can provide cover in several positions.

The Kings have a few injury problems to consider ahead of the clash against the defending champions.

Two of their star players, Thembelani Bholi and Luther Obi, left the field with what appeared to be shoulder and rib injuries respectively.

Neither of them took part in yesterday’s training session as the Kings geared up for their first competitive match of the season,

Kings high performance head James Fleming said Obi and Bholi had not been ruled out of the opener.

“Obi took a bang on the ribs and Bholi had a stinger on his shoulder. Both players are being assessed before the team is named [today]”, Fleming said.

“There were a couple of bumps and bruises, but we were happy with the hit out against the Lions. Hooker Martin Ferreira had a sore throat [yesterday] and prop Tom Botha is recovering after his first game of the season where he cramped up.”

If Ferreira, who appeared to be nursing his arm when he came off against the Lions, is not considered, Michael van Vuuren is set to start.

After trailing 8-0 at half time, the Kings fought back in the second period to score their first win of the season.

“I told the boys I know this is a friendly game, but we need to get a win to take into the Griquas game because you do not want to go into that match with your heads down.

“I think the boys are going to start believing now that they can go all the way in this tournament and win it.”

After losing their opening friendly against the Cheetahs, coach Mzwandile Stick said he was impressed at the way his team had bounced back against a gritty Lions outfit.

He also said he had been impressed by the efforts of his forward pack and the solid defence displayed under pressure against the Lions.

This weekend’s Vodacom Cup fixtures:

Friday: Golden Lions v Blue Bulls, Johannesburg, 3pm: SWD Eagles v Free State XV, George, 7pm.

Saturday: Leopards XV v Valke, Lichtenburg, 2.30pm; EP Kings v Griquas, Port Elizabeth, 3pm; Sharks XV v Border Bulldogs, Durban, 3.30pm; Pumas v Limpopo Blue Bulls, Secunda, 4pm; Boland Cavaliers v Western Province, Caledon, 4.30pm.

-George Byron 

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