Luke Watson will be out for six months due to requiring surgery and is subsequently absent from the Kings' XV at Loftus this weekend.
Kings captain Luke Watson has been ruled out for six months due to ankle surgery and is subsequently absent from the team's XV this weekend.
Watson, who was assessed by a specialist in Cape Town on Tuesday, will have to undergo an operation followed by months of rehabilitation.
“He will have to be operated on and he will be out for six months,” said director of rugby, Alan Solomons at the Kings' team announcement.
Solomons announced that centre Andries Strauss was likely to captain the Kings for the rest of the season, while lock Darron Nell would be the deputy for the Bulls' showdown at the weekend, in the absence of the injured Steven Sykes.
Solomons said he believed the Eastern Cape outfit would be able to handle the absence of Watson after several setbacks prevented him from playing for much of the year.
“Luke is an excellent player, and an excellent leader, but unfortunately this season, Luke has just had a litany of injuries. He's just had really bad luck. The first half of last year he didn't play, then at the end of last year he hurt his ankle against the Leopards in the semi final [of the Currie Cup],” he added.
“He suffered a throat injury against the Western Force and the ankle has still been worrying him. The consequence is that, through no fault of Luke's, he has just not been able to play much rugby this year.
“So what has happened is that the team has had to play without him, and Andries has had to step into the breach and has done a magnificent job, and we are fortunate to have guys like him and Darron here.”
Solomons admitted, however, that Watson's presence would be missed.
“Of course we miss him, but we have had to play a lot of the Super Rugby without him as a necessity because of his injuries,” he said.
Centre Ronnie Cooke turned over an ankle in training this week, but he has been named in the team and Solomons said he was sure he would be fit for Saturday's clash. However, in the event that Cooke was not able to play, Waylon Murray would be called up in his place.
Solomons also announced that Michael Killian would be returning to wing.
“Michael comes in on the right wing, he is now completely over his injury problems, and this presents a real opportunity for him to play. He is a local boy and it's great to have him back. I know he's champing at the bit to play,” he said.
Kings: 15 SP Marais, 14 Marcello Sampson, 13 Ronnie Cooke, 12 Andries Strauss (capt), 11 Michael Killian, 10 Demetri Catrakilis, 9 Shaun Venter, 8 Jacques Engelbrecht, 7 Wimpie van der Walt, 6 Cornell du Preez, 5 David Bulbring, 4 Darron Nell, 3 Kevin Buys, 2 Bandise Maku, 1 Schalk Ferreira.
Replacements: 16 Grant Kemp, 17 Hannes Franklin, 18 Rynier Bernardo, 19 Devin Oosthuizen, 20 Nicolas Vergallo, 21 George Whitehead, 22 Shane Gates.
Date: Saturday, June 29
Kick-off: 17:05 local (16:05 BST, 15:05 GMT)
Venue: Loftus Versfeld
Referee: Lourens van der Merwe (South Africa)
Assistant referees: Jaco van Heerden (South Africa), Cobus Wessels (South Africa)
Television match official: Gerrie Coetzee (South Africa)