Loose forward likely to get call-up for Super Rugby clash against Jaguares
Fiery loose forward Thembelani Bholi is ready to put the Southern Kings on the front foot with his surging ball-carrying runs against the Jaguares on Saturday.
After spending time on the sidelines with a knee injury, Bholi is expected to get the nod to start for the Kings in their Super Rugby clash at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium (kickoff 5.15pm).
Bholi said he had gained confidence in the Kings’ warm-up games after returning from injury.
“I have got my confidence back and I am ready,” he said.
In the warm-up matches, the Kings beat Border Bulldogs 28-10 and then ran out 42-24 winners over the SWD Eagles in Port Elizabeth.
The loose forward said the Kings’ opening match against the Jaguares would be a massive test for the home side.
“They are a very big side, and tough. It is going to be big match. Super Rugby is much faster than Currie Cup,” Bholi said.
“It will be tough for the 23 guys in the Kings team on Saturday. All the teams will be trying to win their first game. That is where you start your confidence.
“I want to become a top player in Super Rugby so that I can prove myself to go into the mix for the Springboks.”
The aggressive play of Bholi in both attack and defence will be vital if the Kings want to repeat the victory they achieved in the corresponding match last season.
Asked what he thought the best elements of his game were and whether it was his job to bring fire to the team, Bholi said: “My ball carrying and defence are my strong points.
“The job of bringing fire to the Kings is for everyone to own. I can do that as well, but it for everyone in the team.
“This season is going to be different from last season because the Kings were under pressure [then]. Now we have had lots of time to prepare.”
Bholi made his first Currie Cup Premier Division start for the EP Kings in their opening match of the 2014 season, a 35-16 defeat to Western Province.
The Kings struggled to adjust to life in the Premier Division and lost their first nine matches. They did, however, beat fellow promoted side the Pumas 26-25 in the final match of the season, with Bholi an unused reserve for that match.
Bholi, born in Maclear, represented Border Country Districts at the U18 Craven Week tournaments in both 2007 and 2008.
He moved to Port Elizabeth in 2010 to join the Eastern Province Kings Academy.
Kings coach Deon Davids is expected to name his side to face the Jaguares tomorrow.
“In the build-up to the Jaguares game, the focus will be on attention to detail and ensuring that everyone knows their roles and responsibilities,” Davids said.
The weekend’s fixtures are: Tomorrow: Rebels v Blues (AAMI Park) 10.45am Friday: Highlanders v Chiefs (Forsyth Barr Stadium) 8.35am, Reds v Sharks (Suncorp Stadium) 11am Saturday Sunwolves v Hurricanes (Prince Chichibu Memorial Stadium) 6.15am, Crusaders v Brumbies (AMI Stadium) 8.35am, Waratahs v Force (Allianz Stadium) 10.45am, Cheetahs v Lions (Toyota Stadium) 3.05pm, Kings v Jaguares (Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium) 5.15pm, Stormers v Bulls (Newlands) 7.30pm