Kings prepared for boxing match in Bloem
If the Toyota Cheetahs want a boxing match the Isuzu Southern Kings will be happy to stand toe to toe with them and slug it out, Kings interim head coach Robbi Kempson has warned.
After an ill-tempered clash in Port Elizabeth, emotions are bubbling just below the surface ahead of Saturday’s return showdown at the Free State Stadium in Bloemfontein.
After the first game, which the Cheetahs edged 31-30, Kempson blasted the tactics of the Free Staters during a fiery Guinness PRO14 showdown.
He described the behaviour of Cheetahs lock Sintu Manjezi as “disgusting” and accused him of starting niggles throughout the game at Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium.
“If they want to box that way we are very happy to stand toe to toe,” Kempson said. “They can expect us to come hard at them in Bloemfontein. There is no question about that.
“If that is the way they want to play the game my team can do exactly the same."
History will be against the Kings in Bloemfontein as the record books that the Port Elizabeth franchise has lost seven consecutive PRO14 matches against the Free Staters.
Cheetahs back William Small-Smith says the Kings can expect a high tempo game as the Free Staters bid to keep their play-off hopes alive.
“We all heard the coach (Kempson) after the game, and perhaps it is a plan behind it or something that he wants to get into our heads,” Small-Smith said.
“If we are going to focus too much on that, it takes the focus off what you want to do.
“From our side, we are playing at home, and we want to play an open, fast and exciting brand of rugby. We will do our stuff well and not really worry about they are going to do."
Experienced flyhalf Demetri Catrakilis is a notable inclusion on the Kings replacements bench and returns after a long injury lay-off.
Loosehead prop, Cameron Dawson will make his PRO14 and Kings debut after recovering from a foot injury he sustained in a pre-season warm-up match against Georgia in Tbilisi in 2019
He replaces the experienced Schalk Ferreira in the starting XV, with the veteran expected to provide cover from the bench.
Lock JC Astle will also make a return to the team with a starting berth, replacing Aston Fortuin, who sustained an injury during training this week.
Southern Kings: Forwards (Nos 1-8): Cameron Dawson, Jacques du Toit (capt), Rossouw de Klerk, JC Astle, Jerry Sexton, Ruaan Lerm, Thembelani Bholi, Elrigh Louw. Backline (Nos 9-15): Theo Maree, Bader Pretorius, Erich Cronje, JT Jackson, Sibusiso Sithole, Yaw Penxe, Andell Loubser. Replacements (Nos 16-23): Alandre van Rooyen, Schalk Ferreira, IG Prinsloo, Bobby de Wee, Lusanda Badiyana, Josh Allderman, Demetri Catrakilis, Howard Mnisi.
Cheetahs: Forwards (Nos 1-8): Charles Marais; Joseph Dweba; Aranos Coetzee; Walt Steenkamp; JP du Preez; Chris Massyn; Junior Pokomela; Jasper Wiese. Backline (Nos 9 to 15): Ruan Pienaar (captain); Tian Schoeman; Rabz Maxwane; Benhard Janse van Rensburg; William Small-Smith; Clayton Blommetjies; Rhyno Smith. Replacements: (Nos1 6 to 23) Wilmar Arnoldi; Boan Venter; Luan de Bruin; Aidon Davis; Daniel Maartens; Tian Meyer; Louis Fouche; Chris Smit.
Referee: Divan Uys.
The game will be shown on SuperSport 1 at 5pm.