PORT ELIZABETH – The Southern Kings suffered a blow with the loss of fullback Malcolm Jaer ahead of their Vodacom Super Rugby match against the Queensland Reds in Brisbane on Saturday (Kick-off 7am).
The 21-year-old Jaer was one of the star performers with a hat-trick of tries for the Southern Kings last weekend as the side narrowly went down 41-46 to the Western Force in Perth in their first of three tour matches in Australia.
However, the elusive back sustained a knee injury in the build-up to the Southern Kings’ second match Down Under, which has brought his tour to an abrupt end. Kings team doctor Konrad von Hagen confirmed this on Thursday.
Jaer will be travelling back to South Africa where he will see a specialist in Port Elizabeth and undergo further scans to ascertain the nature of the knee injury.
Southern Kings head coach Deon Davids expressed his disappointment with the loss of the fullback.
“Unfortunately we have also lost a star player from last week, Malcolm Jaer, with a knee injury. He will be returning to South Africa to be properly assessed,” Davids said.
The injury to Jaer has given an opportunity for another elusive fullback, Masixole Banda, to return to the starting XV after missing out on a spot in the team last weekend against the Force.
“We are lucky to have Masixole Banda in the squad, who can replace him,” the head coach said. “He has been exposed to this level of rugby in the first few weeks of the competition. He is looking forward to regain that opportunity at No15.”
Banda’s inclusion in the team is the only change Davids has made to the backline after last weekend’s thrilling performance.
In the forwards pack, the head coach has made three rotational changes to the side that squared up against the Force in Perth.
In the front row, Chris Heiberg gets his first start of the season as he exchanges spots with Schalk van der Merwe at tighthead prop. In the second row, Mzwanele Zito will be getting a starting berth at No4 with Irne Herbst going to the bench. Tyler Paul will also start in the No7 jersey, replacing Andisa Ntsila who will be on the bench.
Justin Forwood, who was a late inclusion last weekend following the neck injury to Ross Geldenhuys, will again be afforded an opportunity to start while Geldenhuys continues to receive rest.
“At this stage of the tournament it becomes important that you manage the load of the players effectively,” Davids explained the changes.
“It’s been a tough week for us, with the players suffering from sore bodies, bumps and bruises as a result of the tough encounter against Western Force last week. Therefore, we need to rotate our players in certain positions, which is what we have done.”
The head coach admitted that his side was expecting another tough encounter against the Reds this weekend while also acknowledging the positive improvements he has witnessed in his own side this season.
“The Reds are a quality side with a lot of international players in their squad. It is going to be important for us to minimise our mistakes and use our opportunities much more effectively against them on Saturday,” he said.
“Last week there was much improvement in certain areas of our game. Unfortunately, close decisions and our inability to use our opportunities better cost us that game. We are a team that is still learning, eager to learn and we are very excited to get an opportunity to play a quality side like the Reds on Saturday here in Brisbane.”