Kiss pre­pared for the un­ex­pected as por­ous Kings change venue

The Irish Times - Sports Weekend - - SPORTS - GERRY THORN­LEY

Tonight South­ern Kings v Ul­ster Rugby Wolf­son Sta­dium, Port El­iz­a­beth, 3pm lo­cal/1pm Ir­ish, BBC NI

A change is as good as a rest, but this ap­plies as much to the Kings as it does to Ul­ster. Their de­ci­sion to move this game to the Wolf­son Sta­dium in Kwaza­kele, Port El­iz­a­beth, is set to en­sure an al­to­gether nois­ier back­drop than was the case for their pre­vi­ous two home games in the Guin­ness Por12 at the Nel­son Man­dela Bay Sta­dium.

“A crowd of 10 000 can get ‘lost’ in a mas­sive venue like the Nel­son Man­dela Bay Sta­dium, but it would lift the roof off the rafters in a packed Wolf­son Sta­dium,” said Charl Crous, the chief op­er­a­tions of­fi­cer of the South­ern Kings.

In the home team’s ex­pec­ta­tions of a full house, an un­der­stand­ably wary Les Kiss ad­mit­ted: “It’s a very big un­known for us and we’ve got to be pre­pared for the un­ex­pected. With their fan base, the en­ergy is go­ing to be there for them.”

To com­pound this “un­known”, the sur­face is sand-based and come kick-off tem­per­a­tures in the mid-20s, and Kiss said they may ask for wa­ter breaks.


In the ab­sence of their six Ir­ish squad mem­bers and lat­est ca­su­al­ties Jean Dey­sel and Rod­ney Ah You, Ul­ster are boosted by the re­turn of scrumhalf John Cooney and prop Wiehahn Herbst, as well as Craig Gil­roy.

The Kings coach Deon Davids makes three changes from the team beaten 43-13 in Scot­stoun last week. Yaw Penxe moves to full­back in place of Masixole Banda with Michael Makase on the right wing while Oliver Zono while re­places the in­jured Martin du Toit at out­half. Hooker Stephan Coet­zee comes in for Michael Willemse.

While Ul­ster should have enough cut­ting edge to ex­pose the Kings’ por­ous de­fence, this could in­deed be trick­ier than ex­pected, all the more so with a home ref­eree.

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