The Kings have named a team to face the Sharks this weekend containing five changes from the unit that went down to the Stormers in their previous fixture. Flyhalf Lionel Cronje, a man who is no stranger to Durban having played for the Sharks in Super Rugby two years ago, will spearhead the challenge and look to get one over younger rival Ben Janse van Rensburg.
Apart from Cronje, the only other Kings players with Sharks experience are flanker Chris Cloete, who played his age-group rugby in the black and white and of course centre Waylon Murray. This is a rather unusual situation for the Kings, who have leaned heavily on players from Durban over the last few years as they’ve battled to establish themselves in Super Rugby.
Two changes up front see former WP junior Wilhelm van der Sluys start at lock, while Andisa Ntsila comes in at blindside flank for Thembelani Bholi. I’m not sure if the stats are accurate, but one feels that, at just around six foot and 100kg, Ntsila is likely to have his work cut out for him against the juggernaut Sharks back row.
At the back, Louis Schreuder returns at scrumhalf after a spell out with concussion, while Wandile Mjekevu drops out for the same reason, replaced at 13 by Berton Klaassen. The final change sees veteran winger Alshaun Bock – who did some damage against the Sharks least year in Griquas colours – make a long awaited Super Rugby debut, in the number 11 jersey. Bock is 34 years old and earns his first cap; opposite number Odwa Ndungane is 36 and will play Super Rugby for the 142nd time.
It is interesting to note just how much of a factor concussion seems to be amongst Kings players at the moment. Rumours that this is caused by players slapping themselves on the forehead after each try they conceded are completely unfounded.
Kings: 15 Masixole Banda, 14 Makazole Mapimpi, 13 Berton Klaasen, 12 Waylon Murray, 11 Alshaun Bock, 10 Lionel Cronje, 9 Louis Schreuder, 8 Ruaan Lerm, 7 Andisa Ntsila, 6 Chris Cloete, 5 Wilhelm van der Sluys, 4 Irne Herbst, 3 Ross Geldenhuys, 2 Michael Willemse, 1 Schalk Ferreira (captain)
Substitutes: 16 Kurt Haupt, 17 Schalk van der Merwe, 18 Justin Forwood, 19 Tyler Paul, 20 Stefan Willemse, 21 Johan Steyn, 22 Pieter-Steyn de Wet, 23 Johann Tromp