Kings must beware of rampant Ulster
Irishmen will come out guns blazing to maintain winning streak – Klaasen
Ulster will come out with all guns blazing when they face the Isuzu Southern Kings at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium on Sunday, explosive Kings centre Berton Klaasen says.
The dynamic player, who some have dubbed “hotstepper” because of his slick backline moves, scored two tries last time the Irish played in Port Elizabeth and he can expect to be a marked man.
It promises to be a fiery Guinness PRO14 clash between two sides who have experienced differing fortunes in the opening two rounds.
Ulster will be defending an unbeaten record after wins over the Scarlets and Edinburgh, while the Kings lost their opening games against Zebre and the Dragons.
“Our last clash against Ulster in Port Elizabeth was a tough encounter which we just lost,” Klaasen said.
“They will come out with all guns blazing and we know they are a quality team, so now the Kings must make a step up on Sunday.”
Klaasen said he would like to get on the scoreboard again against Ulster.
“Yes, I would like to score on Sunday, but it all depends on who is in better position to take the opportunity,” he said.
This year it has been a Klaasen show in midfield for the Kings with Berton and Harlon Klaasen filling the centre berths.
“We are not related and we do make a few jokes about sharing the same surname.
“I have formed a good partnership at centre with Harlon. He is a quality player.”
Despite losing their opening two games, Berton is not overly concerned.
“Considering that we did not have warm-up games, I thought we did well in the first two games,” he said.
“We could have been more clinical in some areas.
“The Kings had some fun on tour and it enabled us to clear our minds a bit.
“Now we are excited to play in front of our own fans.
“All the guys love playing here at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium. Overseas the stadiums are a bit smaller and the fans are close to you so they can be intimidating.”
Coach Deon Davids has given Berton more responsibility this season.
“I have been given a bit more of a leadership role in the backline and I have taken the chance with both hands,” Berton said.
“I love it. PRO14 is a quality competition.”
When the sides met at the Wolfson Stadium last year, Ulster scraped home 43-36 in a thriller that produced 11 tries.
The try-scorers for the Kings at the Wolfson thriller were Berton Klaasen (2), Yaw Penxe (2), and Michael Makase.
The Kings displayed the same attacking mindset against the Dragons and, despite going down 27-22, there were tries for Michael Willemse, Bjorn Basson, Godlen Masimla and Penxe.
Attacking fullback Michael Botha could be back in action for the Kings on Sunday.
He appeared to be running freely at training on Thursday and must be a strong contender to make the side to face the Irish powerhouses.
A groin strain forced Botha out of the Kings clash against the Dragons.
“We are happy with the progress Michael is making and a call on his availability will be made on Friday,” team doctor Gershwin Kortje said.