Experience of Schreuder and Cronje vital for opening game
Head coach Deon Davids wants flyhalf Lionel Cronje and scrumhalf Louis Schreuder to give the Southern Kings tempo and momentum when they face the Jaguares in a Super Rugby match tomorrow.
There is loads of experience in the latest Kings halfback pairing which will dictate how the home team fare in their season-opening clash at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium (kickoff 5.15pm).
Schreuder has played 66 Super Rugby matches for the Stormers, while Cronje arrived at the Kings from the Sharks after stints at several franchises.
It was not surprising that Davids opted for wise heads against a Jaguares team packed with test players.
“The basic understanding of what you want from your numbers 9 and 10 is that they must give direction to team play whether it is on attack or defence,” Davids said.
“Lionel and Louis must ensure we get tempo and momentum and control the territory of play.
“They must use their experience to also give directions to the youngsters around them to bring calmness when needed and to speed up and lead the game in terms of where we want to play.”
Experienced prop forward Schalk Ferreira is captain and Cronje vice-captain.
One of the biggest surprises was the omission of loose forward Thembelani Bholi, who had been expected to put the team on the front foot with his surging, ball carrying runs.
“We assessed each player on merit in terms of the preparation we had up until now and we spoke about the players in terms of where they are at this point,” Davids said.
“Bholi made some good strides in terms of his returning from injury and he understands that he is a big part of our plans.
“We, as coaching staff, just felt that he was one or two weeks off the pace before he will be part of the players from which we will select the 23.”
Davids said he wanted huge commitment from his team at breakdown against a physical Jaguares team.
“This is Super Rugby and we must step up. I am expecting a very physical and high tempo game,” he said.
“From our set pieces, we have to ensure that we handle that battle and step up to contest the collisions.
“We know it is going to be hard and it is going to be physical and we are prepared for that and the guys are looking forward to getting stuck into that.”
Ferreira is expecting a hard scrum battle.
“They will probably be the strongest scrummaging side in the competition,” he said.
“We have worked extra hard on it with Davids and Springbok forwards coach Matt Proudfoot as well, who came on an on-and-off basis.
“Technically, we have put in the work on the scrums.”
Jaguares coach Raul Perez said he was expecting an improvement from his side this season.
“Our focus is on taking things match by match, and right now we are focusing on the Kings.
“We will want to improve on the errors that we need to improve on,” he said. Southern Kings team: Chrysander Botha, Makazole Mapimpi, Berton Klaasen, Waylon Murray, Malcolm Jaer, Lionel Cronje, Louis Schreuder, Ruaan Lerm, Stefan Willemse, Andisa Ntsila, Mzwanele Zito, Irne Herbst, Ross Geldenhuys, Michael Willemse, Schalk Ferreira (capt). Substitutes: Martin Bezuidenhout, Schalk van der Merwe, Chris Heiberg, Tyler Paul, Chris Cloete, Rudi van Rooyen, Masixole Banda, Luzuko Vulindlu.