Johannesburg - The Eastern Province Kings will face the Blue Bulls without skipper Schalk Ferreira, after he was ruled out of selection following a groin strain sustained last week against Boland.
Coach Barend Pieterse announced that Ricky Schroeder has been appointed captain, with hooker Mike Willemse as vice captain. Pieterse has made four changes to his starting line up, including two positional changes, with Siviwe Shakes Soyizwapi moving from fullback to right wing to replace Alcino Isaacs and Johan Tromp moving to fullback from outside centre.
Pieterse has also called up Burton Klaasen from the bench, to fill outside centre, while John Forwood also moves off the bench to replace Ferreira at prop.
Four new players join the bench, including Barend Potgieter, Ettienne Oosthuizen, Luke van der Smit and Minenhle Mthethwa. Oosthuizen, who hails from UJ, and van der Smit, who has played for Western Province at U19, U21 and Currie Cup level, are both new additions to the squad, having only arrived this week.
Pieterse said he was expecting a tough game against the Bulls at Loftus. “We can expect a very physical confrontation up front, with the backline looking at spreading the ball wide and gaining momentum,” he said.
Pieterse said the team had focused on what their strengths were and would continue working on them as the season progressed. “We could spend the whole week just focusing on defense in preparation for the Bulls game, but it is important that we focus on improving on areas where we lacked in our previous game and growing from that,” he said.
Pieterse said the team had also spent some time on team building during the week. “There is a great spirit among the players at the moment and it is important that we keep that going, as it is going to be a tough season for us,” he said.
Kings team: 15. Johan Tromp, 14. Siviwe Soyizwapi, 13. Burton Klaasen, 12. Waylon Murray, 11. Sampie Mastriet, 10. Kobus Marais, 9. Ricky Schroeder (captain), 8. Christiaan de Bruin, 7. Sebastian Ferreira, 6. Vince Jobo, 5. David Antonites, 4. Tazz Fuzani, 3. Vukile Sofisa, 2. Mike Willemse, 1. Justin Forwood. Replacements: 16. Martin Bezuidenhout, 17. Barend Potgieter, 18. Ettienne Oosthuizen, 19. Luke van der Smit, 20. Jacques Fick, 21. Minenhle Mthethwa, 22. Lungelo Goza- African News Agency (ANA)