Johannesburg – Teenage wing Sergeal Petersen will make the step from schools rugby to Super Rugby after being named in the Southern Kings team to face the Western Force at Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium, in Port Elizabeth, on Saturday.
The explosive 18-year-old flyer, who played for SA Schools in 2012, has made an impression in the few warm-up games the Southern Kings have played, scoring a try against Griquas in PE last week.
At the helm will be skipper Luke Watson, a man with plenty of experience at this level for the Sharks and the Stormers.
Watson said the players could not wait to get onto the field.
“It's a very exciting time for us all,” Watson said.
“There's a very good vibe in the camp, and a bit of anxiety among some of the younger guys, but that's the way it should be, and we can't wait to get going.”
Relying on young players would not be a problem for the Kings, Watson said.
“You have to start somewhere and we have no doubt our young players have the ability to step up.
“Whether you have 100 games under your belt or one, it's all about wearing your heart on your sleeve.”
Watson will be backed up in the midfield by former Sharks and Cheetahs' centre Andries Strauss, who will have a crucial role to play in marshalling a young backline.
The Kings will be banking on the boot of flyhalf Demetri Catrakilis to keep them in the game.
The Kings' officials have pressed hard to be allowed to include more than two overseas players in their line-up, but have been denied by the SA Rugby Union.
The selectors have opted to start with a home-grown XV. The only two foreigners in their squad of 22 are among the reserves –
Argentine Daniel Adongo and New Zealander Hadleigh Parkes.
Another player with Super Rugby experience is lock Stephen Sykes, who will anchor the scrum with regular EP Kings' player David Bulbring.
Kings team: SP Marais, Marcello Sampson, Ronnie Cooke, Andries Strauss (vice-captain), Sergeal Petersen, Demetri Catrakilis, Shaun Venter, Schalk Ferreira, Bandise Maku, Kevin Buys, Cornell du Preez, David Bulbring, Steven Sykes, Wimpie van der Walt, Luke Watson (captain). Replacements: Edgar Marutlulle, Jaco Engels, Daniel Adongo, Jacques Engelbrecht, Johan Herbst, George Whitehead, Hadleigh Parkes. – Sapa