Ace kicker Lionel Cronje has been given the job of leading the Southern Kings into battle when they face the Lions in a Super Rugby clash at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium tomorrow (kickoff 3.05pm).
Cronje, who was the vice-captain for the opening four games, takes the place of Schalk Ferreira, who has been ruled out of action for three months by a bicep injury.
Cool-headed pivot Cronje has been in golden form with the boot and started last week’s game against the Sharks with perfect strike rate.
In a flawless display of kicking, he slotted all 15 of his shots at posts in the Kings’ opening games against the Jaguares, Sunwolves and Stormers, until his finely-tuned radar eventually let him down against the Sharks.
“I am truly privileged to be in this position to take on the captaincy role. I want to thank the Kings for affording me this opportunity,” Cronje said. “The circumstances, however, given the loss of a quality leader like Schalk, are not ideal.
“We are privileged to have a group of leaders in the team and therefore the responsibility of playing a leading role does not lie solely with me.
“I look forward to leading the team with our leadership group. We also wish Schalk the best in his recovery,” he said.
“The Lions play a very high-tempo game, with a running style of rugby. The Kings are looking forward to improve in certain areas of our game.
“We want to keep building and improving on what we have displayed in the past couple of weeks,” the captain said.
Head coach Deon Davids said Cronje understood what was expected of him against the Lions.
“I’ve chosen Lionel for this game as captain. As I said to him and the rest of the team, I will do some stock taking after this match,” Davids said.
“Lionel has been around a long time and he understands what is expected of him in Super Rugby. He has been a central part of our leadership group until now.
“From a performance point of view, he has also played some good rugby.
“It’s a good opportunity for him. It is a natural thing, as vice-captain, to take this position,” he said.
Davids has made three changes to his starting lineup that went down 17-19 to the Sharks in Durban last weekend.