Kempson 'experiment' against Stormers
IN THE SPOTLIGHT: PRO14 side the Southern Kings will get an opportunity to test their depth against a near Super Rugby strength squad when the Eastern Cape franchise clashes with the Stormers in a friendly in Knysna on Friday.
The match between the two neighbouring teams can be seen as a derby fixture and should attract a good crowd at what will be a rare opportunity to watch top rugby live for inhabitants of the popular Garden Route town.
But as Kings coach Robbi Kempson has explained, the main imperative will be for the two franchises to test their depth and assess the readiness of certain players for specific roles.
For the Kings, who are in mid-season, it is a warm-up opportunity before the first of their plum PRO14 derby fixtures against the other South African participants, the Cheetahs, in Port Elizabeth on January 25. The Kings recently returned from a five-week hiatus over the festive season to suffer a chastening big defeat at the hands of Edinburgh at Murrayfield.
Although well beaten in a match where at one stage they were down to 12 men, the Kings did show signs of improvement in the areas, such as attack, that they professed to be working on during their mini off-season. The Knysna game will be a good opportunity for them to develop it further without the pressure of playing for competition points.
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“One or two of our players will be rested for the purpose of doing extra conditioning, and also having a couple of players coming back from injuries whom we will be able to utilise and see where they are at,” said Kempson.
“We’ll be taking a squad of about 26 players which will include some of our fringe players to see how they have adapted to how things have been going, and to see if they can make the step up should there be a need due to injury later in the PRO14 campaign. So, this will be a great opportunity to give peripheral players a good run.”
For Kempson, the game will also present an opportunity to experiment.
“We will make a few positional switches for some guys, an example being Bader Pretorius [usually a flyhalf] getting a go at inside centre,” said the former Springbok prop.