Kings captain Luke Watson is back in the starting XV for Saturday's clash with the Bulls, after recovering from a lengthy injury lay-off.
Kings captain Luke Watson is back in the starting XV for their clash with the Bulls in Port Elizabeth on Saturday, after a lengthy lay-off through injury.
Watson was taken off in the first half – after suffering a blow to the throat – in the Kings' opening match against the Western Force in February and only returned to action for the Eastern Province Vodacom Cup side last week.
The back-rower initially expected to play only 60 minutes, but went through the whole match against South Western Districts (SWD), scoring a try in EP's 52-10 victory.
Watson will start at number eight, against the Bulls, in place of Cornell du Preez, who moves to flank.
Kings director of rugby Alan Solomons believes there would be no problem fitting the skipper into the Kings' pattern of play.
“We were pleased that Luke got through the game against SWD and it set him up for his return, and it's great to have him back,” said Solomons.
Watson feels the side's solid structures would stand them in good stead on his return.
“We have pretty good structures which have been in place since our campaign started in November,” he said.
“A lot of our inspiration and motivation is internally driven by the team, and with the strong structures we have, I am sure it will be a smooth transition back into the team.”
The Kings have kept their backline intact following last week's 30-27 win over the Melbourne Rebels, but have made several other changes to the forwards.
Hooker Bandise Maku and prop Kevin Buys return to the front row, while David Bulbring is back at lock in place of Rynier Bernardo, who drops to the bench.
Maku, who has played for the Bulls, said they were expecting a strong physical onslaught from the Pretoria side.
“We have to match them physically up front because they are always strong in the set pieces,” Maku said.
Kings: 15 George Whitehead, 14 Ronnie Cooke, 13 Waylon Murray, 12 Andries Strauss, 11 Sergeal Petersen, 10 Demetri Catrakilis, 9 Shaun Venter, 8 Luke Watson (c), 7 Wimpie van der Walt, 6 Cornell du Preez, 5 David Bulbring, 4 Steven Sykes, 3 Kevin Buys, 2 Bandise Maku, 1 Schalk Ferreira.
Replacements: 16 Hannes Franklin, 17 Grant Kemp, 18 Rynier Barnardo, 19 Jacques Engelbrecht, 20 Nicolas Vergallo, 21 Marcello Sampson, 22 Siviwe Soyizwapi.
Date: Saturday, 20 April
Venue: Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium, Port Elizabeth
Kick-off: 19:10 (17:10 GMT)
Referee: Francisco Pastrana (Argentina)
Assistant referees: Ben Crouse (South Africa), Christie du Preez (South Africa)
Television match official: Johann Meuwesen (South Africa)