Port Elizabeth – Southern Kings coach Robbi Kempson is hoping the experience and bulk of prop Charl du Plessis will help their scrumming performance when they take on the Lions in a Super Rugby warm-up match at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium in Port Elizabeth on Saturday (kick-off 5pm).
In their opening friendly against the Cheetahs last week, which the Kings lost 36-21, Kempson was not impressed with the pressure placed on the home forwards and was planning for a better showing against the Lions.
“The scrums did not go as I would have liked against the Cheetahs,” Kempson said on Tuesday.
“We were under pressure the whole game and I feel we should have had them under more pressure.
“We have been working on those issues with the scrumming machine and hopefully we can sort them out against the Lions.
“Charl brings a bit more experience to the front row and more bulk.”
Du Plessis returns after a lengthy layoff through injury and replaces Pieter Stemmet, who drops to a Vodacom Cup squad which will play Community Cup champions GAP Despatch in the curtain-raiser.
The only other change to the side sees Shane Gates getting a start at inside centre in place of Dwayne Jenner, who is on the bench.
Jenner, however, is on standby for outside centre Ronnie Cooke, who took a knock to the hip against the Cheetahs and will have a final fitness test on Thursday. If Cooke sits out, Brian Skosana will come in for Jenner among the reserves.
With the Cheetahs taking 66 minutes before they edged ahead on the scoreboard at the weekend, Kempson said they were hoping to take some momentum into the Lions game.
“The Lions play a different type of game, with much faster spurts (than the Cheetahs) and we are looking forward to giving them the best opportunity to prepare for Super Rugby... I expect them to field a strong side.”
The Southern Kings team: Siviwe Soyizwapi, Sergeal Petersen, Ronnie Cooke/Dwayne Jenner, Michael Killian, George Whitehead, Jaco Grobler, BG Uys, Dane van der Westhuyzen, Charl du Plessis, Steven Sykes, Rynier Bernardo, Paul Schoeman, Darron Nell (captain), Devin Oosthuizen. Reserves: JC Olberholzer, Lizo Gqboko, Vukile Sofisa, Stephan Zaayman, Stephan Greeff, Thembelani Bholi, Sonwabo Majola, Dwayne Jenner/Brian Skosana, Ntabeni Dukisa. – Sapa