The Sharks are building good momentum after having beaten the Jaguares and the Force over the last fortnight and the Kings - coming off a bye - created Super Rugby history for their franchise by registering back-to-back wins over the Waratahs and the Rebels, and they are fancying their chances of upsetting the Sharks.
Ticket sales are reportedly going well in PE and there is growing excitement ahead of this encounter at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium.
Sharks coach Robert du Preez has brought back experience into his starting line-up, including Tendai Mtawarira at loosehead prop for Thomas du Toit and Lwazi Mvovo on the wing for Sbu Nkosi, but the main change is at 10, where Patrick Lambie is restored after eight weeks of injury in place of Curwin Bosch, who has moved on to the Junior Boks.
“This is a game in which we have to impose control in the early stages but then the Kings will be aiming to do the same,” Du Preez said. “We are not ‘supposedly’ the stronger team. The reality is that this is going to be a very tough game for us against a side that is looking to prove a point and they have a lot of self-belief in their side. The Kings are playing really good rugby.”
Du Preez said that his team “had a job to do”.
“It is fantastic for South African rugby that this game is being talked up. We want to play in front of a good crowd and hopefully there will be a good atmosphere,” Du Preez said. “They have players like Lionel Cronje (former Sharks flyhalf) and flank Chris Cloete, who was in our junior ranks, and they will be wanting to state their case against us.
“Cloete is tough on the ball. We have to eliminate him as a threat at the breakdown so we can play our attacking game,” the coach said. “The Kings are a team that feeds off turnovers and they have players that can hurt you if they get ball from broken play.”
A relaxed Lambie said that he had had his good and bad days over the two months of recovery from a back injury but had enjoyed good support and was fit and ready to get cracking.
“It was rest for the first three weeks, then I had to wear one of those corsets before eventually getting onto the training bike, and once I got running it was a quick process,” he said. “I am now completely ready to play. I am in a good mental space and that 20 minutes off the bench last week against the Force went smoothly and now it is business as usual.”
Lambie said that he had watched the progress of Bosch with interest.
“I have been very impressed with him,” Lambie said. “He strikes the ball beautifully, I have not seen too many players that kick as well as him, out of hand and at posts. He has evolved as well as a person and hopefully he will grow from strength to strength.”