JOHANNESBURG – There were few surprises when Southern Kings coach Deon Davids on Friday named his 28-man squad for the team’s upcoming three-match tour of Europe.
The local franchise face a daunting schedule, with PRO14 championship matches against Ulster, Ospreys and Leinster on consecutive weekends.
Notable absentees from the travelling squad include flyhalf Oliver Zono and fullback Ntabeni Dukisa who are both likely to be out for an extended period of time due to injury.
Also missing are prop Martin Dreyer, scrumhalf Rudi Van Rooyen, wing Alshaun Bock and forward Dries Van Schalkwyk. These four are all still recovering from various knocks and niggles and Coach Davids along with team doctor Clement Plaatjies felt it would be unwise to risk them at this stage. All are expected to be fit for the home fixture against Benetton once the Kings have returned from Europe.
On the plus side for the Kings, front-row strongman Luvuyo Pupuma makes a welcome return to the squad after having come through a midweek friendly against the Madibaz Varsity Cup side unscathed and wing Michael Makase is also back from injury. Tentatively scheduled to be ready for action again in the near future are Justin Forwood and CJ Velleman whose long-term rehabilitation is going “according to plan.”
“I believe we’ve picked the strongest squad available to us and I have no doubt the players will give a good account of themselves over the next few weeks,” said Davids. “As a squad we have shown consistent improvement in our play as the season has progressed and it’s important to me that we continue to do so.
Having said that, we know that we have three extremely tough fixtures ahead of us and that we will have to be at our best. Not only will we be up against formidable opposition but we’ll also have to adapt to the icy conditions of the Northern Hemisphere winter,” he added.
The Kings will face Ulster at the Kingspan Stadium in Belfast on Friday, 9 February, then Ospreys in Swansea on Friday, February 16 before heading back to Ireland for a match against Leinster on Friday, February 23. All three matches will be broadcast live on DSTV Channel 201.
The Kings touring squad is:
Schalk Ferreira, Michael Willemse (Captain), Pieter Scholtz, Stephan Greeff, Arthur (Bobby) de Wee, Andisa Ntsila, Martinus (Tienie) Burger, Ruaan Lerm, Rowan Gouws, Martin du Toit, Anthonie Volmink, Luzuko Vulindlu, Berton Klaasen, Michael Makase, Yaw Penxe, Johan Smith, Stephan Coetzee, Tango Balekile, Luvuyo Pupuma, Dayan van der Westhuizen, Jurie van Vuuren, Lindokuhle Welemu, Eital Bredenkamp, Godlen Masimla, Juan-Phillip (JP) Smith, Barend (Benhard) Janse van Rensburg, Harlon Klaasen, Masixole Banda.
African News Agency (ANA)