Sykes set to stand in for injured captain

George Byron

IT is expected that the Southern Kings will have to find a new captain for Friday's Super Rugby friendly against the Stormers after Darron Nell fractured his elbow against the Lions on Saturday.

Nell did not train yesterday and it seems likely that experienced lock Stephen Sykes will lead the team in what will be a gruelling encounter.

Another Kings casualty from the Lions game is hooker Dane van der Westhuyzen, who dislocated his elbow during the 19-12 defeat and his place is expected to be taken by Albe de Swardt. The 21-year-old Van der Westhuyzen is expected to be out of action for at least six weeks after the untimely injury.

Though he did not take part in yesterday's training session, Kings flyer Sergeal Petersen is expected to take his place in the team to face the star-studded Cape outfit.

Petersen limped off the field with a bruised knee against the Lions, but medical staff are confident he will be ready for Friday's clash.

Apart from their usual drills, the Kings enjoyed a game of soccer yesterday with Siviwe "Shakes" Soyizwapi and George Whitehead showing some neat touches down the wings much to the delight of backline coach Carlos Spencer.

After losing their opening friendly 36-21 against the Cheetahs, the Kings will be desperate to get an elusive win behind their name on Friday. "The Stormers will be stronger opposition to what we have faced so far," Kings caretaker head coach Robbi Kempson said.

"The Stormers are a quality side and that is why they get to the playoffs every year. We will pick our strongest possible side and I am sure they will do the same.

"After the defeat against the Lions just being competitive is not enough any more. We have to start taking steps in the right direction."

With a final decision on whether the Kings will be playing Currie Cup Premier Division rugby delayed until February 13, the Port Elizabeth side will be keen to put their best foot forward in Friday's high-profile friendly.

If the vote goes against the Southern Kings, their next major game is likely to be a Super Rugby promotion/relegation against the team ending bottom of the South African conference.

However, if the Kings are promoted, they have agreed to forfeit their right to play a Super Rugby promotion game.

Kempson was frustrated that his players did not put the knife in against the Lions and he wants his side to show a killer instinct.

"Chatting to the players afterwards we agreed that we could have beaten the Lions. There is no question about that and they are disappointed. We are unhappy we let that one go," Kempson said.