Kings prepare for Leinster onslaught
It will be their biggest test of the season and the Isuzu Southern Kings are ready to stand up and be counted when they face champions Leinster on Sunday, livewire Kings centre Harlon Klaasen said.
When the Kings faced Leinster at the end of last season, the Irish powerhouses scored 10 tries as they romped to a one-sided 64-7 win at the RDS Arena in Dublin.
In 2018, the Kings have won only one of their opening seven Guinness PRO14 matches, and they will face another big test at the Madibaz Stadium in Port Elizabeth.
“If you play against Leinster you must prepare yourself,” Klaasen said.
“I take it as a test when you compare yourself to the best and that brings out the person you want to be.
“So you have to test yourself at that sort of level and at the end of the day that makes you a better player.
“Every week we make a step up, even if we are losing.
“The Kings are playing like a team more and more.
“Leinster will probably attack us through the middle, and they also have a kicking mindset.
“They also like to play with their forwards and when they get into your 22 they will want to maul. The maul is one of their strong points.”
He said the Kings were keen to bounce back after their narrow loss to the Scarlets last week.
“We were very disappointed to lose against the Scarlets because we had the game in our hands.
“But we gave away penalties at key moments and they scored three tries from mauls. “We must try to correct that. “The mood is high in our camp because we are playing against the defending champions. It is a massive priority to give our best as a team,
“The last time we played against Leinster, the score against us was big.
“This time, I feel the team are closer together and there is a brotherhood.
“We have learnt from that defeat and people can see we are getting better week by week. I think we are ready this time.”
Klaasen did not take a full part in training on Wednesday and did fitness exercises at the side of the field.
“When I scored against the Scarlets last week I hurt my hip so I sat out training.
“I will be back in full training later in the week and I will be ready for Sunday’s game.”
The arrival of new centres Tertius Kruger and Meli Rokoua, who were on the bench against the Scarlets, has ensured competition for starting places is fierce.
“This competition is good and it motivates us to play every week and it makes us all better players,” Klaasen said.
“At the end of the day, it improves the team.
“I did athletics at school in the 100m and 200m sprints, so if I see a gap on the field I take it and run 100% every time.
“I like an open game and I enjoy myself. Every opportunity you get you must use to your full potential.”
Klaasen said he was enjoying his centre partnership with his namesake, Berton Klaasen.
“Berton is one of the players who has played a big role in my rugby career.
“He always motivates me to give of my best, even from club rugby days.
“Berton means a lot to me and has helped me to become a better player.
“At the end of the day I am here because of him and I appreciate him and what he has done for me,” he said.