SOUTHERN KINGS PREPARE FOR BATTLE
Side gear up to face depleted but determined Leinster at home
DESPITE Leinster being robbed of key players because of injuries, withdrawals and visa issues, the Southern Kings are preparing for a fight to the death tomorrow. The depleted Dublin side will make rugby history when they become the first European Pro14 team to play at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium.
Leinster were dealt a body blow when their talented New Zealand duo of Isa Nacewa and Jamison GibsonPark were denied entry to South Africa on Tuesday.
New Zealand citizens require visas to enter South Africa after a change in legislation in January and this left Leinster officials with red faces.
The visa headache came after other key players were sidelined by injury or withdrew from the tour.
Davids, however, warned that the players coming into the Leinster side would want to make their mark in South Africa.
“Leinster have a quality side and they have good systems and structures in place,” Davids said.
“Everyone who comes though their systems and into the Leinster squad are players of quality,” Davids said.
“Those players coming in will be excited to get an opportunity and to be part of the tour and claim a stake in the team. So I expect some quality players and some good rugby.”
Work will be done to improve the Kings scrum before they clash with Leinster.
The Kings were under pressure when they lost to Connacht, and their set piece will face another stern examination against the Pro14 highflyers.
“In terms of our last game, we will have to go back and see where we can improve,” Kings captain Michael Willemse said.
“I thought in our scrums, we are still not getting it right in terms of how the referee sees things, so we are going to have to adapt to that promptly.
“It was always going to be a work in progress, and I feel it is coming together nicely.”
Davids said his team were still in a learning process regarding the interpretation of the laws by northern hemisphere referees.
Welsh referee Ben Whitehouse will take charge of tomorrow’s clash.
“There were some good interpretations of the law, which we did not have a problem with. I just think maybe at scrum time it comes down to interpretation.
“Other than that, I was quite satisfied with the way everything went,” Davids said.
From the get-go, Kings officials have done their best to dampen expectations about what can be expected from them in their Pro14 debut season.
They have quietly let it be known that they do not expect to shoot the lights out this season, but are determined to challenge for playoff berths in years two or three.
Willemse was talking up his team’s chances this week after their opening foray into Europe.
“We are looking forward to Leinster this weekend. We are very excited for the opportunity and, hopefully, we can get the win,” he said.
Only one change has been made in the Kings backline from the team that did duty against Connacht, with scrumhalf Rudi van Rooyen coming in for Godlen Masimla, who drops to the bench.
In the frontrow, an injury to Rossouw de Klerk has resulted in Luvuyo Pupuma being rewarded for his tryscoring performance against Connacht by being included in the starting lineup.
There is also a change at lock, where Stephan Greeff takes over from Jurie van Vuuren.
‘ I expect some quality players and some good rugby
Masixole Banda, Yaw Penxe, Berton Klaasen, Luzuko Vulindlu, Sibusiso Sithole, Kurt Coleman, Rudi van Rooyen, Schalk Ferreira, Micheal Willemse, Luvuyo Pupuma, Stephan Greeff, Dries van Schalkwyk, Khaya Majola, Victor Sekekete, Andisa Ntsila. Substitutes: Stephan Coetzee, Petrus Strauss, Martin Dreyer, Bobby de Wee, Siyabulela Mdaka, Godlen Masimla, Ntabeni Dukisa /Oliver Zono, Jacques Nel.
FIGHTING SPIRIT: Khaya Majola during a Southern Kings practice session yesterday