Kings’ claws out for Lions

But star fly­half Cronje out in­jured

Weekend Post (South Africa) - - FRONT PAGE - Ge­orge By­ron by­rong@times­me­

SUN­DAY Su­per Rugby pre­mieres in South Africa to­mor­row and the South­ern Kings want to mark the oc­ca­sion by pulling off a giant-killing act against the Lions at El­lis Park. The Kings are aware of the huge chal­lenge await­ing them in Johannesburg, but they have been em­bold­ened by their re­cent resur­gence.

Last week the Kings were bid­ding for a fourth straight Su­per Rugby win, but were am­bushed by an ef­fi­cient Brumbies out­fit who ran out 19-10 win­ners.

There are no easy games in Su­per Rugby, but play­ing the Lions at El­lis Park will present the Kings with prob­a­bly their tough­est match of the sea­son.

Last week the Lions thrashed the Bulls 51-14 and this time it will be the Kings who at­tempt to tame the run­way Africa Con­fer­ence 2 lead­ers.

The ram­pant Lions have won 11 of the 12 matches they have played this sea­son, scor­ing 56 tries in the process.

To­mor­row the big­gest chal­lenge for the Kings will be to try to dis­rupt the fast tempo of the Lions which traps their op­po­nents on the back foot and keeps the score­board tick­ing over.

The Lions haven’t been beaten in Su­per Rugby at El­lis Park since go­ing down to the Hur­ri­canes on April 30 last sea­son.

How­ever there was a ma­jor set­back for the Kings on the eve of the clash when in­spi­ra­tional skip­per Lionel Cronje had to pull out of the team be­cause of a jaw in­jury. It was dis­cov­ered Cronje had a small crack in his jaw which was plated on Thurs­day.

This means prop Ross Gelden­huys will lead the team and Pi­eter-Steyn De Wet will slot in at fly­half in Cronje’s place.

Fiery loose for­ward Andisa Nt­sila will also be rested this week­end af­ter sus­tain­ing a shoul­der in­jury which will keep him out of ac­tion for a week. But Chris Cloete will make a wel­come return to the start­ing lineup af­ter be­ing side­lined with con­cus­sion for the Brumbies match.

“It is a blow to lose our cap­tain Lionel af­ter we only found out when he re­turned from the Spring­bok camp,” Kings head coach Deon Davids said.

“This is a great op­por­tu­nity now for Pi­eter-Steyn de Wet, who will be get­ting his first start. We be­lieve he is a ca­pa­ble player able to fill Lionel’s boots.

“It is also un­for­tu­nate that Andisa Nt­sila sus­tained a shoul­der in­jury, but this now gives us an op­por­tu­nity to see Tyler Paul at No 8, with Ste­fan Willemse at blind­side flank and Them­be­lani Bholi also get­ting an op­por­tu­nity to make an im­pact from the bench.”

Davids had some­thing to smile about fol­low­ing the return of dy­namic Mal­colm Jaer from a knee in­jury.

Af­ter last turn­ing out for the South­ern Kings while on tour in Aus­tralia, Jaer will start at full­back, where he re­places Chrysander Botha.

Lions head coach Jo­han Ack­er­mann said his team were tak­ing the chal­lenge posed by the Kings very se­ri­ously.

“The Kings are go­ing to be tough. They’ve beaten some top sides this year and they’re play­ing with tremen­dous con­fi­dence and self-be­lief.

“They have been right up there, so it’s go­ing to be a big chal­lenge. We’re go­ing to have to make sure we’re in the right frame of mind.”

Rob­bie Coet­zee gets a start for the Lions at hooker as part of the ro­ta­tion sys­tem, while Faf de Klerk starts in the place of Ross Cronjé, who is at­tend­ing his brother’s wed­ding this week­end.

Ruan Com­brinck gets an­other start af­ter com­ing into the team at the last minute last week­end

To­mor­row’s teams: South­ern Kings: Mal­colm Jaer, Al­shaun Bock, Ber­ton Klaasen, Luzuko Vulindlu, Maka­zole Mapimpi, Pi­eter-Steyn de Wet, Louis Schreuder, Tyler Paul, Ste­fan Willemse, Chris Cloete, Wil­helm van der Sluys, Irne Herbst, Ross Gelden­huys (capt), Martin Bezuiden­hout, Schalk van der Merwe. Re­ple­ce­ments: Kurt Haupt, Dayan van der Westhuizen, Mzamo Majola, Luba­balo Mtyanda, Them­be­lani Bholi, Ste­fan Un­gerer, Ntabeni Duk­isa, Stokkies Hanekom. Lions: Jac­ques van Rooyen, Rob­bie Coet­zee, Ruan Dreyer, An­dries Fer­reira, Franco Mostert, Kwagga Smith, Ruan Ack­er­mann, Warren White­ley, Faf de Klerk, El­ton Jan­tjies, Court­nall Skosan, Harold Vorster, Lionel Mapoe, Ruan Com­brinck, An­dries Coet­zee. Re­place­ments: Mal­colm Marx, Jo­hannes Jonker, Lourens Eras­mus, Jaco Kriel, Dil­lon Smit, Jac­ques Nel, An­thony Volmink/Syl­vian Mahuza Ref­eree: Jaco Peyper. Kick-off: 2:30pm


PACE MAN: Maka­zole Mapimpi will look to pro­vide ex­tra thrust to the Kings back­line at El­lis Park to­mor­row

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