Johannesburg - With the Currie Cup competition just around the corner, EP Kings rugby coach Carlos Spencer says his players remain highly motivated for their warm-up match against a Sharks XV in Port Elizabeth on Friday.
"The players have been working hard at their fitness and other off-field routines for four months," Spencer said.
"They are excited about getting on to the field and playing some rugby and are looking forward to the clash with the Sharks team so there is no problem with motivation. They are motivating themselves."
Playing in the guise of the Southern Kings, the PE outfit would be turning out for their second interprovincial friendly after outscoring a youthful Bulls side by a 40-point margin two weeks ago.
They were hoping to produce another winning performance, with the Super Rugby competition resuming this weekend and the main Sharks side in action in against the Cheetahs in Bloemfontein on Saturday.
The Kings had also played against Wales during their recent tour of South Africa and there were further matches in the pipeline against Griquas and Free State teams.
After many years in the wilderness, the EP Kings had been included in the premier division of the Currie Cup competition and would make their return against Western Province on August 8.
Spencer was hard at work assessing his options for the Currie Cup, and said nobody was guaranteed a place in the team at this stage.
He made nine changes to the starting line-up for Friday's clash from the side which beat the Bulls and would be reviewing the ability of a number of players during this encounter.
"I believe we are pretty much covered in all the positions, but several players still need to cement their places so this is an opportunity for them to put their hands up.
"I am happy with the way the guys have started trying to implement the style we want to play. I would say the game plan is at an 85 per cent execution at this stage so we are moving in the right direction."
Spencer would be particularly interested in the efforts of WP flyhalf Gary van Aswegen on Friday, who was on a one-month loan with the Kings.
The young pivot would partner former Italian Test player Tobie Botes at halfback and a good performance by them could secure their future this season for the Kings.
Captain Luke Watson continued his rehabilitation with further game time and Spencer would be hoping the experienced loose forward stood the test of time after a lengthy injury layoff.
The Kings coach was also looking forward to seeing how young guns such as hooker Mike van Vuuren and wing Sergeal Petersen perform.
"A guy like Mike was very keen to start, but he has arrived a little late so he will start on the bench and I am looking forward to seeing how he goes," Spencer said.
Petersen returned to provincial rugby after being a first-choice wing for the SA under-20 side at the Junior World Cup and was looking to make an impact when off the bench.