Fijian flyer ready to sharpen Kings attack
Fijian flyer Meli Rokoua will be unleashed by the Isuzu Southern Kings against top Welsh side the Scarlets in a Guinness PRO14 clash at the Madibaz Stadium in Port Elizabeth on Friday.
The hard running new signing has impressed at training and could provide the extra spark needed by the Kings to unlock the Scarlets defence. After arriving in SA two weeks ago, the powerful centre will welcome this early chance to impress for his new team.
“We will definitely see Meli getting some game time against the Scarlets,” Kings head coach Deon Davids said.
“We will chuck him in and see what he can do. Meli has shown us some glimpses of things he can do so we are excited to see what can happen on the park.” New captain JC Astle said he was looking forward to leading the Kings into battle against the Welshmen.
“I like to think of myself as a bit of a leader. I have captained Boland and my school team. It has been a while since I captained a team, but I like to lead from the front,” Astle said.
“Being captain puts a bit of pressure on you and the guys are looking to you for inspiration or to say the right thing when it gets tough.
“I am very excited about the challenge and want to show something extra on Friday night.”
Astle takes over the captaincy from Michael Willemse, who has been sidelined by a shoulder injury.
The rest of the Kings injury list sees lock Bobby de Wee out of action for six months following a shoulder injury sustained against Benetton in Italy a fortnight ago.
Loose forward Bakkies Brown has been ruled out for between seven to eight weeks with an ankle injury.
He is being managed conservatively by the medical team and is consulting an ankle specialist on a weekly basis.
Prop Xandre Vos, who sustained a neck injury, has also been ruled out for two months.
Prop Schalk Ferreira (nose), loose-forward CJ Velleman (shoulder) and scrumhalf Rudi van Rooyen (ankle) have made good recoveries from their various injuries and are training with the team this week.
Sarel Pretorius (foot), Pieter Scholtz (shoulder), Oliver Zono (knee) and Sibusiso Sithole (shoulder) are making good progress in their rehabilitation.
Martin Dreyer (knee) remains on the long-term injury list as he is out for nine months.
After defeats to Racing 92 and Leicester Tigers in the Champions Cup, the Scarlets will now focus on maintaining their second-place position in Conference B of the PRO14.
The squad travel to South Africa without 12 international players who have been called up to the Wales squad as well as injured players James Davies, Aaron Shingler and Tom Prydie.
Centre Kieron Fonotia is also unavailable because of suspension.
The Scarlets players named in the Wales Test squad are Rob Evans, Wyn Jones, Ken Owens, Ryan Elias, Samson Lee, Jake Ball, Gareth Davies, Rhys Patchell, Hadleigh Parkes, Jonathan Davies, Steff Evans and Leigh Halfpenny.
Scarlets tour squad
Forwards: Phil Price, Dylan Evans, Werner Kruger, Simon Gardiner, Taylor Davies, Marc Jones, Daf Hughes, David Bulbring, Tom Price, Josh Helps, Steve Cummins, Blade Thomson, Josh Macleod, Will Boyde, Uzair Cassiem, Ed Kennedy. Backs: Sam Hidalgo-Clyne, Kieran Hardy, Declan Smith, Dan Jones, Steff Hughes, Paul Asquith, Ioan Nicholas, Morgan Williams, Johnny McNicholl, Clayton Blommetjies.