The Eastern Province Kings will want to put their economic situation by the wayside when they take on the Boland Cavaliers in Port Elizabeth on Friday.
The Kings' dirty laundry has been the thesis of many a water-cooler gossip session in recent weeks, and the Port Elizabethans will need to prove their place in the competition when they host Boland. The Kings, who put in some gutsy performances in Super Rugby but were fairly dismal in general, are an almost completely different side going into the Currie Cup Premier Division.
The Cavaliers are coming off a solid 44-16 beating at the hands of the Cheetahs in Wellington and go into the game with zero points on the overall table. Boland will need a win to start picking up some momentum in the competition to try and replicate their Currie Cup Qualifying form.
The Boland men had a successful Currie Cup Qualifier where they finished third behind Western province and the Griquas and only two points behind their Kimberly counterparts.
The Kings have a new coach in Barend Pieterse due to the short recruitment time available, and the majority of players had been contracted on a short-term basis for the Currie Cup season.
Pieterse believes that having a team of relatively unknown players could help their chances and that they are taking their situation as it comes.
"I do think it counts in our favour that no-one knows about us," said Pieterse.
"We are where we are at the moment and there is no turning back."
Pieterse said this did not mean that he was expecting Boland’s head coach, Brett Janse van Rensburg, whom he had worked with in the past, to have not done his homework.
"Boland have some strong ball carriers and a big forward pack and we are expecting them to take us on up front, so it is important for us to focus on slowing their momentum," he said.
Boland will look to fly-half Adriaan Carelse for another great performance. The play-maker was fantastic despite his side's loss last weekend he controlled his backline well while attacking brilliantly as he evaded defenders with ease using his lightening footwork.
The last time these teams met: The Cav's produced a great all-round performance to beat the Kings 37-18 at home. Tries by lock Ockie van Zyl and hooker Chadley Wenn, coupled with seven points from the boot of fullback Nico Scheepers got the Wellington side to an early lead. Kings outside centre Somila Jho went over after some consistent pressure from the Kings. The hosts were leading 17-11 at half-time. The Cavaliers were quick out of the blocks as loose-forward Zandre Jordaan went over and took the score to 25-11. Kings player Winnaar sprinted the length of the field after intercepting on his own try line, dotting down under the uprights. A brace by Danwel Demas got his side the try scoring bonus-point, but also secured the result for the home side.
Team news: The Kings have an almost brand new side taking the field at Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium. Eastern Province stalwart Schalk Ferreira will skipper the side from loosehead prop and will scrum down with Mzuvukile Sofisa and Mike Willemse at hooker. They have a strong second-row in Cornell Hess and Tazz Fuzani who did not really feature in Super Rugby but finally get their opportunity to shine. In the backline they have some experience in Siviwe Soyizwapi who played at the Stormers as well as for the Blitzbokke and Springbok centre Waylon Murray starts in the 12 jersey.
Boland remains a relatively unchanged since their loss to the Sharks last weekend. The only difference will be Chadley Wenn replacing Clemen Lewis at hooker who drops out of the squad. Otherwise the side remains exactly the same.
Prediction: This should be a tight contest but look out for the new-look Kings to shock Boland by 7.
Eastern Province Kings: 15 Siviwe Soyizwapi, 14 Alcino Izaacs, 13 Johan Tromp, 12 Waylon Murray, 11 Sampie Mastriet, 10 Kobus Marais, 9 Ricky Schroeder, 8 Christiaan de Bruin, 7 Sebastian Ferreira, 6 Vincent Jobo, 5 Cornell Hess, 4 Tazz Fuzani, 3 Mzuvukile Sofisa, 2 Mike Willemse, 1 Schalk Ferreira (c)
Replacements: 16 Martin Bezuidenhout, 17 Justin Forwood, 18 David Antoinites, 19 Henry Brown, 20 Jacques Fick, 21 Burton Klaasen, 22 Lungelo Goza
Boland Cavaliers: 15 Nico Scheepers, 14 Sergio Torrens, 13 Ryan Nell (c), 12 Christopher Bosch, 11 Danwel Demas, 10 Adriaan Carelse, 9 Marnus Hugo, 8 Zandré Jordaan, 7 Jacques Engelbrecht, 6 Kenan Cronje, 5 Hanno Kisthoff, 4 Shaun McDondald, 3 Basil Short, 2 Chadley Wenn, 1 SP Wessels
Replacements: 16 Francois Esterhuizen, 17 Francois Hanekom, 18 Joubert Horn, 19 Chaney Willemse, 20 Jovelian De Koker, 21 William Van Wyk, 22 Craig Pheiffer
Date: Friday, August 12
Venue: Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium, Port Elizabeth
Kick-off: 17.00 (15.00 GMT)
Referee: Rodney Boneparte
Assistant Referees: Jaco Pretorius, JP Clements
TMO: Christie du Preez