The Kings will be in Edinburgh on Friday night after one month’s break from PRO14 duty, but coach Deon Davids appears to have selected a touring squad with a view to beating the Cheetahs next week.
Edinburgh returned from a visit to Port Elizabeth on December 2 with a 48-21 victory. The winless Kings haven’t played since and, with the return leg set to kick off at the Scottish team’s Myreside home on Friday at 9.35pm (SA time), Davids has named a 25-man invasion party notable for the absence of some experienced campaigners.
In a team press release, the coach explained the omission of Stefan Greeff and Bobby de Wee from the touring group as nothing more than ‘managing their workload’.
“Stefan Greeff and Bobby de Wee have been grafting extremely hard in our previous encounters and will return for the Cheetahs game,” Davids said .
“We have in their place though, Jurie van Vuuren and Lindokuhle Welemu, two replacements who will be determined to prove themselves. There’s also an opportunity for Eital Bredenkamp and Freddie Ngoza, neither of whom have played in the first half of the season, to step up as loose forwards, in the place of the injured players.”
The Kings will also travel to Edinburgh without Andisa Ntsila, who suffered a concussion during training, and the injured trio of captain Michael Willemse, flyhalf Oliver Zono and wing Michael Makase. Team doctor Clement Plaatjies said he expects them to be ready for action soon.
Davids also revealed that Mzamo Majola, on loan from the Sharks, had been required to return to his home franchise and had been replaced by Njabulo Gumede whilst recent loan signing from the Lions Anthony Volmink was not considered for the Edinburgh encounter due to family commitments.
“Overall this has been a difficult touring squad to put together and I’ve had much to consider,” said the Kings coach. “We’ve had to… consider the impact that the tough travelling schedule we have coming up could have on their recovery.
“We have also been hit by some unforeseen injuries. In light of this, we decided it would be a good opportunity to assess the depth and talent within the squad by giving other players an opportunity on this one-week tour.”
While a victory will do nothing to change the Kings’ position at the base of Conference B, a win against the Cheetahs, third in Conference A, will certainly give them some ammunition for the post-season review of their inaugural PRO14 campaign.
Meanwhile, the Cheetahs will travel to Treviso to face Benetton in Round 13 with all but one of the players that started in the 28-21 win against Scarlets in Round 10, as a bout of flu has cancelled fullback Clayton Blommetjies’ flight.
KINGS TOURING SQUAD
Fowards: Schalk Ferreira, Pieter Scholtz, Martin Dreyer, Njabulo Gumede, Rossouw de Klerk, Tango Balekile, Stephan Coetzee, Lindokuhle Welemu, Dries van Schalkwyk, Jurie van Vuuren, Martinus Burger, Eital Bredenkamp, Freddie Ngoza, Ruaan Lerm
Backs: Rudi van Rooyen, Godlen Masimla, Rowan Gouws, Kurt Coleman, Berton Klaasen, Harlon Klaasen, Martin du Toit, Alshaun Bock, Yaw Penxe, Masixole Banda, Ntabeni Dukisa
CHEETAHS TOURING SQUAD
Forwards: Charles Marais, Ox Nche, Luan de Bruin, Johannes Coetzee, Tom Botha, Torsten van Jaarsveld, Jacques du Toit, Joseph Dweba, Reniel Hugo, Carl Wegner, Rynier Bernardo, Paul Schoeman, Oupa Mohoje, Uzair Cassiem, Junior Pokomela
Backs: Zee Mkhabela, Shaun Venter, Fred Zeilinga, Niel Marais, Francois Venter (c), Nico Lee, William Small-Smith, Makazole Mapimpi, Craig Barry, AJ Coertzen