SOUTH­ERN KINGS PRE­PARE FOR BAT­TLE

Side gear up to face de­pleted but de­ter­mined Le­in­ster at home

The Herald (South Africa) - - FRONT PAGE - Ge­orge By­ron by­rong@ti­soblack­star.co.za

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

Kings team:

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.

Pic­ture: WERNER HILLS

FIGHT­ING SPIRIT: Khaya Ma­jola dur­ing a South­ern Kings prac­tice ses­sion yes­ter­day

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