Kings in bid for epic win

A injury crisis has propelled scrumhalf Ricky Schroeder into the Kings starting line-up
A injury crisis has propelled scrumhalf Ricky Schroeder into the Kings starting line-up

Skipper Schalk’s boys upbeat after Sunwolves morale-booster

Energised by a win over the Sunwolves, the Southern Kings will look to make some history when they face an injury-hit Stormers side at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium today (kick-off 3.05pm). The Kings have never beaten South African opposition in Super Rugby and they may well be sniffing blood after a moraleboosting win in Singapore.

They will, however, be up against an unbeaten Stormers outfit who arrive in Port Elizabeth with wins over the Bulls and Jaguares under their belt.

Lock Eben Etzebeth will lead the side in the absence of regular captain Siya Kolisi, who is being rested for the trip to Port Elizabeth.

Despite the depth of talent at their disposal, the Stormers are on the brink of a centre crisis after Dan Kriel was ruled out.

They are already operating without their firstchoice trio of Juan de Jongh‚ Damian de Allende and Huw Jones through a combination of injury and international duty in Jones’s case.

Asked if his team could break their South African duck against the Stormers, Kings captain Schalk Ferreira said: “Every time we go out onto the field, the Kings go for the win. We never go out just to compete or just to survive.

“I think with the confidence of the guys, even though some of them are inexperienced, we always feel we have a shot at winning the game.

Ferreira said his team’s win over the Sunwolves last week had been a big boost for morale.

“It was the first away win for this squad and having it quite early in the season was important for us to build momentum.”

Kings head coach Deon Davids said he had not been paying too much attention to the Stormers squad.

“We have not been concentrating a lot on their team. As I said from the start, it’s all about us and reviewing our last performance to see where we can improve.

“The Kings will admit that the Stormers are a quality side with a lot of Springboks and it will be a huge challenge. But it would be a mistake for us to over-focus on the opposition and forget what we can bring into the game.”

A injury crisis has propelled scrumhalf Ricky Schroeder into the Kings starting line-up.

After failing to make the squad for his team’s opening two matches, Schroeder now has a chance to shine on the big stage in his Super Rugby debut.

In the Stormers side, Bjorn Basson will replace Cheslyn Kolbe, who injured an ankle during his team’s match against the Jaguares.

There are two changes in the front row, with props Oli Kebble and Frans Malherbe making their first starts of the season on either side of hooker Bongi Mbonambi.

Kolisi’s place at flank is taken by Sikhumbuzo Notshe, with Nizaam Carr back in the starting 15 at No 8.

Stormers head coach Robbie Fleck said his team wanted to build on their two victories.

“This will be our first away game of the campaign after two good wins at Newlands and we would like to see further improvements in our game this weekend.

“We always get great support as a team in Port Elizabeth, so we are looking forward to the challenge on Saturday.”

Today’s teams:

Southern Kings: Masixole Banda, Makazole Mapimpi, Waylon Murray, Luzuko Vulindlu, Malcolm Jaer, Lionel Cronje, Ricky Schroeder, Ruaan Lerm, Thembelani Bholi, Chris Cloete, Irne Herbst, Tyler Paul, Ross Geldenhuys , Michael Willemse, Schalk Ferreira (capt). Replacements: Kurt Haupt, Schalk van der Merwe, Chris Heiberg, Wilhelm van der Sluys, Andisa Ntsila, Johan Steyn, Pieter-Steyn de Wet, Berton Klaasen.

Stormers: SP Marais, Dillyn Leyds, EW Viljoen, Dan du Plessis, Bjorn Basson, Robert du Preez, Dewaldt Duvenage, Nizaam Carr, Sikhumbuzo Notshe, Rynhardt Elstadt, Pieter-Steph du Toit, Eben Etzebeth (captain), Frans Malherbe, Bongi Mbonambi, Oli Kebble. Replacements: Ramone Samuels, JC Janse van Rensburg, Wilco Louw, Chris Van Zyl, Jaco Coetzee, Justin Phillips, Kurt Coleman, Damian Willemse. Referee: Shuhei Kubo (Japan).

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