Cape Town - Super Rugby returns to Port Elizabeth for the first time in almost 14 years, but this time the locals will have their own team to support in the guise of the Kings, who will be hosting the Force at the Nelson Mandela
Bay Stadium on Saturday evening.
The Force, established in 2006 as one of the newer teams in this competition, got their season underway last weekend in Melbourne, where they lost 23-30 to the Rebels, now in their third year of existence.
The Sharks used Port Elizabeth twice as a venue - in 1998 they trashed the Chiefs by 52-18 and in 1999 they were too good for the Brumbies, winning 21-16.
But the Kings are a new entity and they will be looking to set their own standards in the coming months.
They have a whole bunch of players who will be making their Super Rugby debuts and realise it will not be easy, but Kings coach Matt Sexton said his team had done as much as they could in preparation for their debut.
“Whatever we could do, we’ve done as far as preparation goes,” Sexton said.
Mixed in with the newbies, are a host of players that have played a fair amount of Super Rugby, including Kings captain Luke Watson
, who has played 82 matches at this level for the Sharks and the Stormers, Steven Sykes (69 for the Sharks), Andries Strauss (40 for the Sharks and Cheetahs) and Bandise Maku
(33 for the Bulls and Lions).
“We have a number of experienced players who have played a lot of Super Rugby, but on the flip side there are some who have not,” said Watson. “We all have to start somewhere and we have no doubt in the ability and commitment of those guys who will be pulling on a Super Rugby jersey for the first time.”
Kick-off as at 19:10 on Saturday evening.Teams:Kings:
15 SP Marais, 14 Sergeal Petersen
, 13 Ronnie Cooke, 12 Andries Strauss, 11 Marcello Sampson, 10 Demetri Catrakilis
, 9 Shaun Venter, 8. Luke Watson
(captain), 7. Wimpie van der Walt, 6. Cornell du Preez, 5. Steven Sykes, 4 David Bulbring, 3 Kevin Buys, 2 Bandise Maku
, 1 Schalk Ferreira
Substitutes: 16 Edgar Marutlulle, 17 Jaco Engels
, 18 Daniel Adongo, 19 Jacques Engelbrecht, 20 Johan Herbst, 21 George Whitehead, 22 Hadleigh ParkesForce: