Planet Rugby

Preview: EP Kings v Wales

09th June 2014 15:54

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Darron Nell EP Kings CC 2012

Leading the Kings: Darron Nell

With both teams eager to make a strong impression, Wales kick off their tour of South Africa against the EP Kings at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium in Port Elizabeth on Tuesday.

While Warren Gatland's Dragons will be sharpening their claws for the more daunting task of taking on the Springboks in a two-Test series, while the home players will be looking to stake a claim for berths in the starting line-up when the Currie Cup season gets under way in August.

Precious little was learnt from the 'trial' game played before the squad left Cardiff as the general feeling was that Gatland's squad had been selected before kick-off.

It will be hard for the players named in the midweek XV to force their way into the starting side for the first Test but there are places in the 23 up for grabs.

Dan Lydiate will captain Wales having recovered from a hamstring injury that ruled him out of Racing Metro's season run-in as well as the Probables versus Possibles trial. He desperately needs game time. Another possible starter for the weekend is wing Alex Cuthbert, whose sheer size could be an asset against the Boks.

Like his Springbok counterpart Heyneke Meyer, Gatland is using this tour as preparation for the World Cup and has mentioned how the four-day turnaround before the Saturday's first Test in Durban will offer his squad a taste of the rigours of playing back-to-back big games.

"[Lydiate] did a good job captaining the Lions (against Melbourne Rebels last summer) and I am sure he will do so again. He needs some rugby and has been unfortunate," said Gatland.

"He was playing some good rugby towards the end of the Six Nations and was getting some more rugby with Racing Metro, but he pulled his hamstring. But he is a guy who gets better with rugby under his belt.

"It's an opportunity to see a number of squad pull on the Wales jersey and represent their country and see how they handle the game and the pressure," added the Kiwi coach.

"We know how tough the next few weeks are going to be and that starts on Tuesday, and we have to be prepared for a big game and hit the ground running. We were keen to have this match, to experience a short turn around and replicate what we will face at the World Cup next year.

"That preparation is well under way and Tuesday is a great opportunity for players who have impressed this season and at the trial to stake their claim on the international stage."

Lydiate will lead a squad that includes all four uncapped players who have made the journey to South Africa.

Three of those players have been named in the starting XV, with Matthew Morgan lining up at full-back, Steven Shingler at inside centre and Jordan Williams on the wing.

Meanwhile, new signing Hansie Graaff says the Kings will be anxious to make a huge statement as they look ahead to their return to Currie Cup Premier Division after a 12-year absence from the top flight.

The former Sharks full-back is one of a number of new faces in a Kings team to that will face the Welsh.

"It is an exhibition match so there is no pressure on us, but we also do not want to look like fools," said Graaff.

"We are going out to try and make a huge statement to Wales and the other Currie Cup teams as well. I am positive that we will be well supported. We are smaller than Wales so we need a 16th man."

The teams:

EP Kings: 15 Hansie Greeff, 14 Siviwe Soyizwapi, 13 Ronnie Cooke, 12 Shane Gates, 11 Scott van Breda, 10 George Whitehead, 9 Kevin Luiters, 8 Paul Schoeman, 7 Devin Oosthuizen, 6 Thembelani Bholi, 5 Cameron Lindsay, 4 Darron Nell (capt), 3 Charl du Plessis, 2 Edgar Marutlulle, 1 Lizo Gqoboka.
Replacements: 16 Albe de Swardt, 17 BG Uys, 18 Simon Kerrod, 19 Steven Cummins, 20 Stefan Willemse, 21 Jaco Grobler, 22 Dwayne Jenner, 23 Ntabeni Dukisa.

Wales: 15 Matthew Morgan, 14 Alex Cuthbert, 13 Cory Allen, 12 Steven Shingler, 11 Jordan Williams, 10 James Hook, 9 Rhodri Williams, 8 Dan Baker, 7 Josh Turnbull, 6 Dan Lydiate (c), 5 Ian Evans, 4 Jake Ball, 3 Rhodri Jones, 2 Scott Baldwin, 1 Paul James.
Replacements: 16 Matthew Rees, 17 Aaron Jarvis, 18 Samson Lee, 19 Luke Charteris, 20 Aaron Shingler, 21 Gareth Davies, 22 George North, 23 Liam Williams.

Date: Tuesday, June 10
Venue: Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium, Port Elizabeth
Kick-off: 19:00 local (18:00 BST)
Referee: Lourens van der Merwe (South Africa)
Assistant referees: Christie du Preez (South Africa), Rodney Bonaparte (South Africa)

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