Sydney - The Southern Kings are hoping to end their tour of Australia on a high note when they face the Waratahs on Friday in the last of three Super Rugby matches on tour.
The men from Port Elizabeth will end their three-match tour, following clashes with Western Force and Reds, with an encounter against the Waratahs at the Allianz Stadium in Sydney on Friday (11:45 SA time).
“It’s going to be a very tough encounter this week. We have massive respect for our opponents - they are one of the top teams in this competition. They have a lot of international stars,” Southern Kings coach Deon Davids said on Wednesday.
“For us, it is about putting up a better performance. It is going to be a tough encounter - one we are really looking forward to.”
Davids named his side to take on the 2014 Super Rugby champions on Wednesday, making four changes and one positional switch to the team that played against the Reds last weekend.
A concussion to winger Yaw Penxe, who returned to South Africa earlier in the week, has forced Davids to make one change to the backline which sees Wandile Mjekevu getting his first start of the season at right wing.
Up front, Andisa Ntsila will start at No 8, replacing Ruaan Lerm, while lock Irne Herbst returns to the starting XV, changing spots with Mzwanele Zito who will be on the bench this week. Tighthead prop Ross Geldenhuys makes a return to the team following a neck spasm ahead of the Southern Kings’ match against Western Force a fortnight ago.
Justin Forwood moves from tighthead to the other side of the scrum, with Chris Heiberg, who started at loosehead last weekend, not in the match-day squad this week.
On the bench, Kurt Haupt will provide cover at hooker, while Stokkies Hanekom will provide backline backup and will be up for his first appearance for the Southern Kings in the Super Rugby competition.
“Injuries always impact us in a sense that they influence your continuity and combinations,” the head coach said.
“Yaw Penxe and Malcolm Jaer (who sustained a knee injury after the Western Force game) are youngsters who did a great job for us, but we are lucky to fall back on the experience of Stokkies Hanekom and Ntabeni Dukisa, who have joined the team in Australia. We are hopeful that these guys will grab their opportunities and make the step up in Super Rugby.”
Davids expressed pleasure at the growth he is witnessing from his side this season.
“We are a team that has grown tremendously on and off the field. The players have adapted well to the challenges of Super Rugby. As team-mates they have grown closer to one another,” he said.
“It is still a process, but with each game we are improving. I think we will continue to do that throughout the competition.
“We want to end the tour well. I think it has been a tough, but enjoyable tour. There have been some good stuff and also things that we need to improve on. For us, it is about putting everything together from the start to the finish in this last match. We hope that we will get a good result.”
15 Israel Folau, 14 Taqele Naiyaravoro, 13 Rob Horne, 12 David Horwitz, 11 Cam Clark, 10 Bernard Foley, 9 Jake Gordon, 8 Michael Wells, 7 Michael Hooper, 6 Ned Hanigan, 5 Will Skelton, 4 David McDuling, 3 Tom Robertson, 2 Tolu Latu, 1 Paddy Ryan
Substitutes: 16 Hugh Roach, 17 Angus Ta’avao, 18 David Lolohea, 19 Dean Mumm, 20 Jed Holloway, 21 Nick Phipps, 22 Bryce Hegarty, 23 Harry Jones
15 Masixole Banda, 14 Wandile Mjekevu, 13 Berton Klaasen, 12 Luzuko Vulindlu, 11 Makazole Mapimpi, 10 Lionel Cronje (captain), 9 Louis Schreuder, 8 Andisa Ntsila, 7 Tyler Paul, 6 Chris Cloete, 5 Wilhelm van der Sluys, 4 Irne Herbst, 3 Ross Geldenhuys, 2 Michael Willemse, 1 Justin Forwood
Substitutes:16 Kurt Haupt, 17 Schalk van der Merwe, 18 Dayan van der Westhuizen, 19 Mzwanele Zito, 20 Ruaan Lerm/Martin Bezuidenhout, 21 Johan Steyn, 22 Stokkies Hanekom, 23 Pieter-Steyn de Wet