Nell to lead the Kings
As anticipated lock Darron Nell has been named as captain of the Southern Kings for Friday night’s Vodacom Super Rugby promotion-relegation match against the MTN Lions at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium in Port Elizabeth.
Nell takes over the captaincy reins from centre Andries Strauss, who was not considered after breaking his hand in training last Friday.
Nell has led the Kings before so not too much adaptation will be required from the Eastern Cape team, who are fighting for their survival in Super Rugby after finishing last of the South African franchises in this year’s competition.
However some adaptation will be necessary in the midfield, where Shane Gates couldn’t ask for a bigger baptism at this level. Gates will start for the first time as Strauss’s replacement, and will partner Ronnie Cooke, who has been named vice-captain for this game.
In further changes to the side that struggled in Durban in the last match of the league phase of Super Rugby, SP Marais returns at fullback, while Demetri Catrakilis is back to orchestrate matters from flyhalf.
Hadleigh Parkes, used as a centre earlier in the season, comes in on the right wing, with Marcello Sampson playing on the left.
While there is plenty of change at the back, the good news for the Kings is that they will have a relatively settled forward unit fronting their challenge on Friday, although the naming of Steven Sykes, the experienced former Sharks player, on the bench might be regarded as a minor surprise.
Southern Kings team: SP Marais, Marcello Sampson, Ronnie Cooke (vice-captain), Shane Gates, Hadleigh Parkes, Demetri Catrakilis, Shaun Venter, Jacques Engelbrecht, Wimpie van der Walt, Cornell du Preez, David Bulbring, Darron Nell (capt), Kevin Buys, Bandise Maku, Schalk Ferreira.
Replacements: Charl du Plessis, Hannes Franklin, Steven Sykes, Devin Oosthuizen, Nicolas Vergallo, George Whitehead, Waylon Murray.