The expected return of powerhouse prop Schalk Ferreira from injury will give the Southern Kings a timely boost as they enter the final stages of a gruelling Super Rugby campaign.
Ferreira has been out of action since March when he injured his biceps after the Kings narrowly lost to the Sharks in their fourth game of the season.
The Kings’ next assignment is a tough trip to Buenos Aires, where they will face the Jaguares on July 1. After their trip to Argentina, the Kings complete their season with games against the Bulls (Pretoria) and Cheetahs (Port Elizabeth).
It is expected that Ferreira will be given some much-needed game time when the EP Kings face the Boland Cavaliers in a crunch SuperSport Series game in George on Saturday.
He did not train with the team yesterday because of a niggle, but is expected to be fit for the trip to George. The return of Ferreira follows news that prop Schalk “Hond” van der Merwe had been ruled out for the rest of the season by a serious shoulder injury.
The 26-year-old underwent surgery on the injury he sustained during the Kings’ defeat against the Lions in Johannesburg three weeks ago.
After a break, the Kings returned to training last week to prepare for their final three matches of the season. Veteran wing Alshaun Bock is being monitored closely by the Kings’ medical staff after surgery on his biceps which were injured during the Lions clash.
Utility back Ntabeni Dukisa, who injured his shoulder against the Lions, is undergoing rehabilitation. Apart from Ferreira, scrumhalf Rudi van Rooyen has also returned to full fitness.
Flyhalf Lionel Cronje, who took over the captaincy after Ferreira was sidelined, is away on duty with the South African A side who play the French Barbarians on Friday.
The other Kings players on duty for the South African A side are Makazole Mapimpi, Chris Cloete and Andisa Ntsila. Fullback Masixole Banda, who missed the Kings’ previous two matches, has made good progress with the hamstring injury that kept him on the sidelines.
“We go to Argentina and then, when we come back, have to play the Bulls at Loftus before ending off against the Cheetahs,” coach Deon Davids said.
“So it will be a tough time for us when we come back. “We really have to ensure that, from a conditioning and recovery point of view, we are spot on with our planning and preparation.”
Davids said the Kings would have to work hard this week, because next week their training schedules would be disrupted by the trip to Argentina.
“This week we will take it to another level and work on our intensity that we need for the Jaguares,” he said. “The team will build towards that.
“In the week of playing the Jaguares game, we are not going to have much time to prepare because of the long flight. “The guys will also need to recover, so we need to put in the hard work this week.”