Port Elizabeth – In a bid to add more grunt up front, the EP Kings coach Carlos Spencer has made four changes to the pack for Saturday's Currie Cup match against the Blue Bulls in Pretoria.
“We have brought back players like Steven Sykes and Darron Nell to add some physicality up front – which is something we lacked against the Lions and really need against this Bulls outfit,” Spencer said on Wednesday.
“We have also included Paul Schoeman among the loose forwards to give us greater energy at the breakdown and to put pressure on in that area. Also, he's a very good ball carrier.”
Skipper Luke Watson is also back in the fold after missing last weekend's clash against the Lions with a bout of flu.
Flank Stefan Willemse moves to the No 6 jersey, with Schoeman replacing Thembelani Bholi on the other side of the scrum.
In the only change to the backline, scrumhalf Kevin Luiters comes in for Tobie Botes, who has been battling with a wrist problem.
Successive losses saw Spencer run out of patience with his charges and he was critical of a somewhat lack-lustre attitude in their 60-19 loss to the Lions.
“Darron and Steve have good experience and we have lacked that when we have fallen behind in matches.
“We are hoping they can help us to overcome any bad situations as we have a fairly young group of players and we want them to lead by example, with their encouragement and their actions.
“Luke is also vital to the team, providing more experience to the pack, and it's crucial for us, as a team, to have him for the full 80 minutes.”
Spencer said they had focused strongly on the lack of intensity in their last game, knowing it could prove fatal against a Blue Bulls team who had also lost two out of two.
“We have spoken all week about the need for urgency and commitment, which is something we lacked in abundance against the Lions,” Spencer said.
“We know the Bulls have their backs to the wall and will come out firing, and if we don't match that aggression, we will come second.”
EP Kings: Lizo Gqoboka, Edgar Marutlulle, Tom Botha, Darron Nell, Steven Sykes, Stefan Willemse, Paul Schoeman, Luke Watson (captain), Kevin Luiters, Gary van Aswegen, Siviwe Soyizwapi, Shane Gates, Tim Whitehead, Ronnie Cooke, Scott van Breda. Replacements:
Mike van Vuuren, Charles Marais, Steven Cummins, Thembelani Bholi, Jaco Grobler, George Whitehead, Siyanda Grey. – Sapa