Eastern Province Kings coach Carlos Spencer has named his team for Friday's opening Currie Cup fixture against Western Province.
Eastern Province Kings coach Carlos Spencer has named his team for Friday's opening Currie Cup fixture against Western Province at Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium.
Spencer's main focus is to keep his team relaxed this week as the team makes a return to the top echelon of Currie Cup rugby after many years in the wilderness.
Former Springbok Luke Watson will captain the team that features a handful of experienced players in the likes of centre Tim Whitehead, wing Ronnie Cooke and lock David Bulbring.
“We know that it is a big challenge, but this week has been about getting the players to enjoy the preparations and to plan for the game without putting too much pressure on them,” said Spencer.
“It is important to worry only about ourselves and what we can do. We understand it will be tough and the challenge for us is to ensure we play for the full 80 minutes.”
In the front row, prop Lizo Gqoboka has been bracketed with BG Uys, but Spencer was confident Gqoboka would take his place in the starting line-up.
“Lizo didn't take contact today, but I am pretty confident he will be fine for Friday night,” Spencer said.
Experienced lock Steven Sykes is also on the sidelines at this stage, with Spencer saying he needed a bit more game time after an injury lay-off.
“Our locks (Steven Cummins and David Bulbring) have been working well together so we are happy with that combination,” he said.
EP Kings: 15 Scott van Breda, 14 Ronnie Cooke, 13 Tim Whitehead, 12 Shane Gates, 11 Siviwe Soyizwapi, 10 Gary van Aswegen, 9 Tobias Botes, 8 Luke Watson (captain), 7 Stefan Willemse, 6 Thembelani Bholi, 5 David Bulbring, 4 Steven Cummins, 3 Tom Botha, 2 Edgar Marutlulle, 1 Lizo Gqoboka/BG Uys.
Replacements: 16 Albe de Swardt, 17 CJ van der Linde, 18 Darron Nell, 19 Aidon Davis, 20 Kevin Luiters, 21 George Whitehead, 22 Ntabeni Dukisa.
Date: Friday, August 8
Venue: Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium, Port Elizabeth
Kick-off: 19:10 local (17:10 GMT, 18:10 BST)
Referee: Jaco Peyper
Assistant Referees: Christie du Preez, Jaco Pretorius
TMO: Deon van Blommestein.