Port Elizabeth – Despite losing their place in Super Rugby to the Lions, Southern Kings captain Darron Nell says his side will not be motivated by revenge when the two sides meet in a pre-season friendly in Port Elizabeth on Saturday.
The Lions were booted out of Super Rugby at the end of 2012 to make way for the Kings, but earned the right to return when they ousted the Eastern Cape franchise in a tightly contested two-leg promotion play-off last year.
“Last year's games don't have any relevance and we have a whole new set of goals that we want to achieve at the Kings,” Nell said.
“We know where we want to go in the future and we started that process against the Cheetahs last week. Now we will continue against the Lions.”
Kings coach Robbie Kempson said they were focusing only on giving the Lions the best preparation for the Super Rugby competition beginning in February.
“I get on very well with their coach, Johan Ackermann, and we recently chatted as well,” he said.
“Just like the previous game, we are aiming to give them the best opportunity to prepare for Super Rugby.”
However, there is no doubt that the Kings would like to put in a special performance against a team that have become their arch-rivals.
Lions captain Warren Whiteley believed the teams' struggles for Super Rugby inclusion could make for an enticing encounter.
“We have a relationship with the Kings that goes back to the promotion-relegation matches,” Whiteley said.
“There will always be a bit of fire in the game.”
The Kings have made two changes to the team that lost 36-21 to the Cheetahs last weekend.
Charl du Plessis comes in at prop to add experience and bulk to the front row, while Shane Gates will replace Dwayne Jenner at inside centre.
Ronnie Cooke has passed a fitness test and will partner Gates in the midfield.
The Lions, meanwhile, have named a strong side for the encounter, with several players who did not play against the Leopards last week coming into the squad.
Springbok lock Franco van der Merwe, Julian Redelinghuys, Jaco Kriel, Warren Whiteley, Michael Bondesio, Marnitz Boshoff and Andries Coetzee will all start against the Kings.
Among the forwards, Willie Wepener is in the starting XV, with Robbie Coetzee on the bench.
Ackermann said the team was close to his strongest line-up, but he admitted there were players on the fringe who could still make an impact.
“I think these guys are the ones in form, but I have warned them that there are other players who will be challenging for spots,” he said.
Southern Kings: BG Uys, Dane van der Westhuysen, Charl du Plessis, Steven Sykes, Rynier Bernardo, Paul Schoeman, Darron Nell (captain), Devin Oosthuizen, Jaco Grobler, George Whitehead, Michael Killian, Shane Gates, Ronnie Cooke, Sergeal Petersen, Siviwe Soyizwapi. Replacements: JC Oberholzer, Lizo Gqoboko, Vukile Sofisa, Stephan Zaayman, Stefan Greeff, Thembelani Bholi, Sonwabo Majola, Dwayne Jenner, Ntabeni Dukisa.
Lions: Andries Coetzee, Chrysander Botha, Lionel Mapoe, Stefan Watermeyer, Courtnall Skosan, Marnitz Boshoff, Michael Bondesio, Warren Whiteley (captain), Derick Minnie, Jaco Kriel, Franco van der Merwe, Rudi Mathee, Julian Redelinghuys, Willie Wepener, Schalk van der Merwe. Replacements: Robbie Coetzee, Jacques van Rooyen, Corne Fourie, Willie Britz, Warwick Tecklenburg, Faf de Klerk, Willie du Plessis, JW Jonker. – Sapa