Kings looking to hit back
Port Elizabeth - The Southern Kings are determined to bounce back from last week's 72-10 thumping by the Waratahs when they take on the Highlanders in their Vodacom Super Rugby clash in Port Elizabeth on Saturday.
Despite some courageous performances this season, neither side has set the competition alight and both will be desperate for points as they strive to move away from the wrong end of the log.
The Eastern Cape franchise, who are playing their 10th game in a row this weekend, are walking something of a tightrope as fatigue begins to set in.
Kings director of rugby Alan Solomons said their main objective this week had been to try to "freshen up" the squad.
"After a proper analysis after last week you must realise that we do not have great depth in terms of Super Rugby experience and we have spoken about how to cope with that situation," Solomons said.
"This week we have tried to freshen things up by giving the players some time off, and we have put last week behind us."
Both Solomons and coach Matt Sexton have spoken of the need to get up after being knocked down and the character of the Kings players will be tested to the full by the Highlanders.
"We are nearing the finish line." Sexton said.
"We had a slip-up, skinned our knees, but now we need to get up and finish the race."
The Kings know there will be no easy ride against the Highlanders, despite the New Zealand franchise's ordinary record this season.
The tourists are coming off a win over the Sharks last weekend and that result would have lifted their spirits considerably for the remainder of the campaign.
Kings skipper Luke Watson acknowledged that the bottom-of-the-log Highlanders were a prickly prospect.
"From one to 15 they have the players who can beat most teams on their day and we are well aware of the challenge ahead of us," Watson said.
"But we need to focus on our systems and what we can do best to make sure we are mentally and physically prepared."
With experienced players such as prop Tony Woodcock and lock Brad Thorn, the Highlanders are sure to test the home side up front with an abrasive challenge.
The Kings are hoping Watson's return after starting twice on the bench will help them, while lock David Bulbring is also back to freshen the squad in a rotational change with Rynier Bernardo.
It is looking increasingly likely that the Kings will be involved in the promotion-relegation playoff with the Lions at the end of the season.
Nonetheless, a win at this stage of the campaign will provide a crucial lift to their spirits and the Highlanders can expect a strong surge from the home side as the Kings look forward to a bye next week.