High hopes as home team go all out against Ul­ster at Wolf­son

Weekend Post (South Africa) - - FRONT PAGE - Ge­orge By­ron by­rong@ti­soblack­star.co.za

IF every­thing goes ac­cord­ing to coach Deon Davids’s bat­tle plan, the South­ern Kings will end their los­ing run and be crowned “Kings of the Kasi” at the Wolf­son Sta­dium to­day.

It will re­quire a gi­ant-killing act for the strug­gling Kings to top­ple Ul­ster, but the win­less side are hop­ing a par­ti­san home crowd and some team changes work magic in Kwaza­khele.

Ul­ster coach Les Kiss has ex­pressed fears that his team could be walk­ing into an am­bush af­ter the game was switched from the state-of-the-art Nel­son Man­dela Bay Sta­dium to the more com­pact Wolf­son field.

“We might be walk­ing into some form of am­bush, but it’s an in­ter­est­ing sit­u­a­tion,” Kiss said of the change of lo­ca­tion.

“I think it’s a great move by them. Would we have pre­ferred to play at the other sta­dium? Prob­a­bly. But this is the re­al­ity of it,” Kiss said.

So far the Kings have strug­gled to make any head­way in the PRO14, los­ing all seven of their open­ing seven games.

“It is fan­tas­tic to take the guys out to go and play in the com­mu­nity,” Davids said. “It ex­cites me in the sense that we have this priv­i­lege to go and show­case our tal­ent and bring rugby of a high level closer to the young peo­ple. We want the peo­ple of the East­ern Cape to be­come the best that they can be. The Kings want to give young­sters an idea that this is within their reach.

“This close contact, and be­ing there and see­ing their he­roes in per­son, al­lows young peo­ple to match them­selves up against them. For me that is part of the pic­ture and why we are here to en­sure that we grow the game.

“You can­not grow the game if you are not will­ing to en­gage and move closer. The Kings are look­ing for­ward to this.

“I have seen it when we played over­seas where we do not play in big sta­di­ums. South Africa have big sta­di­ums.

“Over­seas there are small sta­di­ums. It is like the SWD Dis­tricts Sta­dium or the Boland Sta­dium over­seas and they are packed and there is a nice vibe to play in.

“I think this is what we want and what we are striv­ing to do. If we can get a lot peo­ple there it will be a good in­spi­ra­tion.

“It will be the right step in fill­ing up the sta­dium again go­ing for­ward. Let’s start in small patches and work from there.”

New Kings skip­per Schalk Fer­reira, who takes the place of in­jured Michael Willemse, is also look­ing for­ward to play­ing in Kwaza­khele.

“I think it is one of the big­gest prob­lems in South Africa that we have these huge sta­di­ums and you put 15 000 into a sta­dium and it looks empty and you lose the at­mos­phere,” Fer­reira said.

“I have played a lot in smaller sta­di­ums in Europe and have seen the im­pact the crowd has. We see the 50/50 calls go to the home team be­cause the crowd has an im­pact.

“If there is a very slight high tackle there is a roar in the sta­dium and it plays on the ref­eree. It has a big im­pact. “It has a down­side to the vis­it­ing team and an up­side to the home team. We get en­ergy from it. Ev­ery time there is a line break by the home side there is a roar. In your mind it plays a role.” When Davids is­sues his last­minute in­struc­tions in­side the Wolf­son Sta­dium dress­ing room this af­ter­noon he will ex­hort his play­ers to cut out fun­da­men­tal er­rors. Davids knows that his team’s sea­son will prob­a­bly be de­fined by the way they shape up in their next three home matches against Ul­ster, Scar­lets and Edinburgh be­fore the fes­tive sea­son break. To­day’s teams: South­ern Kings (nos 15 to 9): Yaw Penxe, Michael Makase, Ber­ton Klaasen, Luzuko Vulindlu, Al­shaun Bock, Oliver Zono, Rudi van Rooyen. (nos 1 to 8): Schalk Fer­reira (capt), Stephan Coet­zee, Ros­souw de Klerk, Stephan Gre­eff, Bobby de Wee, Andisa Nt­sila, Jurie van Vu­uren, Ruaan Lerm. Re­place­ments: (nos 16 to 23) Tango Balek­ile, Mazamo Ma­jola, Martin Dreyer/ Lu­vuyo Pa­puma, Lin­dokuhle Welemu, Dries van Schalk­wyk, Rowan Gouws, Kurt Cole­man, Jar­ryd Sage. Ul­ster (nos 1-8): Andy War­wick, John An­drew, Wiehahn Herbst, Kieran Tread­well, Alan O’Con­nor, Matty Rea, Chris Henry (cap­tain), Sean Reidy; (nos 9-15): John Cooney, Chris­tian Leali­ifano, An­drew Trim­ble, Dar­ren Cave, Louis Ludik, Craig Gil­roy, Charles Pi­u­tau. Re­place­ments (16-23): Adam McBur­ney, Callum Black, Ross Kane, Rob­bie Di­ack, Clive Ross, Jonny Ste­wart, Peter Nel­son, Tommy Bowe. Ref­eree: Quin­ton Im­mel­man The match will be shown live on SS1 at 3pm.


ON TEN­TER­HOOKS: Oliver Zono gets set for ac­tion at the Kings’ prac­tice ses­sion at the Wolf­son Sta­dium in Kwaza­khele


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