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Port Elizabeth – After two close defeats in friendly matches, the Southern Kings made several changes to their line-up for the match against the Stormers at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium on Friday.
Lock Steven Sykes steps up to take over the captaincy from Darron Nell, who injured an elbow in the 19-12 loss to the Lions last weekend. Brendon Olivier replaces BG Uys, and hooker Albé de Swardt comes in for the injured Dane van der Westhuysen.
“Dane van der Westhuysen has dislocated his elbow, so Albe comes back in after recovering from his rib injury,” said coach Robbie Kempson.
“We don't know how long Dane will be out for as we are still awaiting feedback from the specialist.”
Kempson said Stephan Zaayman would come up from the bench to take Nell's place at flank.
“Backline coach Carlos Spencer has decided to go with a different variation on the back line as he wants to see what he has out there.”
Consequently, a number of rotations have come into effect, with Sonwabo Majola in at scrumhalf in place of Jaco Grobler, Eben Barnard playing on the wing in place of Michael Killian, and Dwayne Jenner coming in at outside centre for Ronnie Cooke.
Kempson said Sergeal Petersen, who had taken a slight knock to the knee during the Lions game, was ready and would remain in the starting 15 at wing, with Shakes Soyizwapi again taking up position at fullback.
Kempson said the Kings would again be playing with an extended team of 26 players to allow more players to get game time.
He said the game against the Stormers would prove challenging, with the Kings playing their third big match in a row, plus the loss of some players to injury.
“I think the Stormers are a different kettle of fish completely. They're a thoroughly professional outfit and they have a strength and depth that most provinces don't have, so I think that, for us, it is going to be a very competitive game,” he said.
“The team is looking to go out and give them a very good go and a run for their money. We're not here to just make up the numbers.”
Southern Kings squad: Brendon Olivier, Albé de Swardt, Charl du Plessis, Steven Sykes (Captain), Rynier Bernardo, Paul Schoeman, Stephan Zaayman, Devin Oosthuizen, Sonwabo Majola, George Whitehead(Vice Captain), Eben Barnard, Shane Gates, Dwayne Jenner, Sergeal Petersen, Siviwe Soyizwapi. Replacements: JC Oberholzer, Lizo Gqoboka, Pieter Stemmet, Stephan Greeff, Thembelani Bholi, Kevin Kaba, Tyler Paul, Jaco Grobler, Ronnie Cooke, Michael Killian, Brian Skosana. – Sapa