The Southern Kings have been able to maintain consistency in selection for Saturday’s big Super Rugby showdown against the Sharks in Port Elizabeth.
Coach Deon Davids has lost talented prop Justin Forwood to a serious knee injury for the rest of the season, but has largely retained the same side that thrashed the Melbourne Rebels 44-3 in their last match two weeks ago.
Former Lions loosehead Schalk van der Merwe will replace Forwood, while ex-Force front-ranker Chris Heiberg comes on to the bench.
But a man who will have a lot to prove on Saturday will be lock Lubabalo “Giant” Mtyanda, who used to play for the Sharks. Mtyanda never quite got a real opportunity in the first team in Durban, but is a physically imposing character able to take on the opposition forwards with strong ball-carries and ruthless defence, while he is also a solid lineout jumper.
Mtyanda will be on the bench, though, with the Kings starting locks being Wilhelm van der Sluys and Irné Herbst.
The Kings enjoyed a bye last week following the Rebels match, which saw flyhalf and captain Lionel Cronjé – who has been a key figure in the Kings’ renaissance this season – able to recover from a head knock.
The first-round match resulted in a tight affair, with the Kings somewhat unfortunate to go down 19-17 at Kings Park on March 18.
Davids is positive that his team can extend their two-match winning run.
“The team has recovered well and there has been a lot of energy in the camp and a lot of excitement during our training sessions,” he said on the Kings’ website on Thursday.
“I think our guys are quite focused on what we want to achieve and do – we spoke about it. We are glad that we could pull off a win in our last two games.
“We just want to build on that feeling and energy we received from all the support. The more support we get, the more encouraging it will be for the guys to do better.”
Southern Kings Team
15 Maxisole Banda, 14 Wandile Mjekevu, 13 Berton Klaasen, 12 Luzuko Vulindlu, 11 Makazole Mapimpi, 10 Lionel Cronjé (captain), 9 Louis Schreuder, 8 Andisa Ntsila, 7 Tyler Paul, 6 Chris Cloete, 5 Wilhelm van der Sluys, 4 Irné Herbst, 3 Ross Geldenhuys, 2 Martin Bezuidenhout, 1 Schalk van der Merwe
Bench: 16 Kurt Haupt/Tango Balekile, 17 Chris Heiberg, 18 Dayan van der Westhuizen, 19 Giant Mtyanda, 20 Stefan Willemse, 21 Johan Steyn, 22 Pieter-Steyn de Wet, 23 Stokkies Hanekom