Preview: EP Kings v Western Province

Date published: August 7 2014

South Africa's top domestic rugby competition, the Currie Cup, kicks-off on Friday when the EP Kings will play host to Western Province.

South Africa's top domestic rugby competition, the Currie Cup, kicks-off on Friday in Port Elizabeth when the EP Kings tackle Western Province.

In a boost for the Eastern Cape region, the Kings return to the Premier Division after a twelve-year absence from the top table and they can brace themselves for a tough match at Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium, against last year's table winners, who lost the 2013 final at home to the Sharks.

The Kings have traditionally enjoyed good support from the Eastern Cape rugby fans at their home venue and a passionate crowd is expected on Friday to witness their comeback to the top flight. Former Stormers player Luke Watson will captain the Kings from the number eight position.

Centre Juan de Jongh leads a much-changed WP line-up, which will include fit again Eben Etzebeth (lock) and Frans Malherbe (prop). Both the latter two were released from Springbok duty in order to get some much-needed game time after returning from lengthy lay-offs.

The teams:

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.

Western Province: 15 Cheslin Kolbe, 14 Kobus van Wyk, 13 Juan de Jongh (c), 12 Michael van der Spuy, 11 Seabelo Senatla, 10 Demetri Catrakilis, 9 Nic Groom, 8 Nizaam Carr, 7 Michael Rhodes, 6 Siya Kolisi, 5 Manuel Carizza, 4 Eben Etzebeth, 3 Pat Cilliers, 2 Tiaan Liebenberg, 1 Alistair Vermaak.
Replacements: 16 Stephan Coetzee, 17 Frans Malherbe, 18 Jean Kleyn, 19 Sikhumbuzo Notshe, 20 Louis Schreuder, 21 Robert du Preez, 22 Pat Howard.

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