Ex-Bok also questions future of team
Former Bok star Naas Botha has put the boot into the Southern Kings, predicting that they will “really get hammered” when they face a rampant Lions team in Johannesburg on Friday night. The TV analyst has also questioned what the future holds for the Port Elizabeth franchise who have struggled to make headway in their return to Super Rugby after a two-year absence.
Speaking on TV, Botha said the Lions would be extra hungry because they have a chance to finish top of the overall log.
“You don’t really want to the travel to the Lions at the moment because they have a one-point advantage over the Chiefs,” he said.
“If they get two five-pointers in their next two games they will be first. I think the Kings are coming up to really get hammered in Johannesburg, unfortunately.”
Botha was speaking after the Kings went down 48-18 against the Highlanders, who were missing five of their All Black stars.
“It is belief. At 10-8 at one point the Kings thought they had a chance, but when the Highlanders just hung onto their passes it was a different ball game,” he said.
“At the end, 48-18 is a big hiding. If you are realistic it was the B team of the Highlanders against the Kings.
“You have got so many question marks about the Kings now. Half the team are going overseas, so I don’t know what they are looking at next season.”
Former Bok wing Ashwin Willemse, speaking on the same television show, said the Kings had at times looked really enthusiastic and wanted to play against the Highlanders.
“Unfortunately, they do not have the persistence to threaten teams like the Highlanders and it showed in the end,” he said.
“If you look at the names on the team sheet for the Kings and the likes of Malcolm Jaer – we would probably not have known of him if he was not playing for the Kings. So a lot of players are coming through .
“But, unfortunately, they do not have the quality players to compete at this level. For many it was their first season.
“For the coach more time will definitely assist in terms of the preparation next season. But will he have enough quality players?” Willemse asked.
The Kings will be without skipper Steven Sykes for Friday’s clash.
Kings head coach Deon Davids said the lock would miss the match due to personal reasons.
In Sykes’s absence, hooker Edgar Marutlulle will take over the captaincy role.
In a tactical move, prop Sti Sithole will start in place of Schalk Ferreira and Jacobie Adriaanse returns to action after missing the Highlanders match because of a calf strain.
Flank Andisa Ntsila gets a chance in the starting lineup after impressing for the Madibaz and the SWD Eagles.
“Andisa is an athlete who has come through the academy and we want to see if he can make the step up,” Davids said. Two Junior Springboks who represented South Africa at the recent Junior World Championship in England are also in the squad.
Scrumhalf James Hall starts in the place of Ntando Kebe and centre Jeremy Ward has been named on the bench.
“With Jeremy it has been a long time coming and we want to see him get an opportunity after his international duty,” Davids said.
Malcolm Jaer, Lukhanyo Am, Stefan Watermeyer, Shane Gates, Wandile Mjekevu, Louis Fouche, James Hall, Aidon Davis, Stefan Willemse, Andisa Ntsila, JC Astle, Schalk Oelofse, Jacobie Adriaanse, Edgar Marutlulle, Sti Sithole. Replacements: Martin Bezuidenhout, Schalk Ferreira, Tom Botha, Sintu Manjezi, Jacques Engelbrecht, Ntando Kebe, Dewald Human, Jeremy Ward