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Port Elizabeth – Having made most teams sit up and take notice following their opening win over the Western Force, Vodacom Super Rugby rookies the Southern Kings are preparing for a Sharks onslaught when they clash in Port Elizabeth on Saturday.
After a week's break to digest, the Kings go into this game without regular skipper Luke Watson, who picked up a throat injury, with lock Darron Nell taking the leadership role.
Nell will be supported by vice-captain Andries Strauss and fellow lock Stephen Sykes, who are both former Sharks players and know that a physical approach from the visitors will be a major threat to the Kings' chances this weekend.
“They have some big carriers in their backline in JP (Pietersen), Frans (Francois Steyn), and Lwazi (Mvovo), so this will be a different challenge than we faced against the Force,” Strauss said.
“But we have done our homework on defence. It is now up to us to adapt to the challenge.”
Strauss said they were not getting carried away by their debut victory, knowing that plenty of difficult matches lay ahead.
“As a team, we have set ourselves goals,” he said.
“We are motivated internally, not by external factors, and we want to win more games. We have to keep improving and show the world we can play at this level.”
Many eyes will again be on teenage wing Sergeal Petersen after his sensational two-try debut against the Force, and the Sharks will no doubt have plans to shut down the talented youngster.
Kings director of rugby Alan Solomons said Petersen was ready for another challenge.
“There is a good team spirit and he is looked after by the senior players and has his feet on the ground. He knows this is another challenge,” Solomons said.
Coach Matt Sexton was looking for his team to hold on to the ball more against the Sharks, insisting they could not afford to make as many tackles as they did against the Force.
“We made too many tackles in our first game and we want to hold on to the ball more,” Sexton said.
“We have to get our set-pieces right and make sure we have a good, solid foundation.”
With the Sharks aiming for their third straight win, coach John Plumtree said they were bracing for a hot reception at Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium.
“They've come off a win and the crowd will be right behind them,” Plumtree said.
“They would have enjoyed their first experience and are probably really looking forward to the next one, and that one's against us.
“The warning signs are there and we know they've got players there that have played Super Rugby.
“There's probably a couple now that have enjoyed their first moments in Super Rugby, and if you combine all of that you get some real passion, so I'm sure that's what we'll get.” – Sapa