Kings bring in rookie pivot for Munster
TEAM ANNOUNCEMENT: Exciting Southern Kings flyhalf, Bader Pretorius, will get his first starting berth when the side takes on Munster Rugby in a PRO14 Round 15 match at the Irish Independent Park in Cork on Friday.
The 21-year-old Pretorius made his debut for the Southern Kings from the bench in the team’s 25-21 victory over Edinburgh Rugby last month, and will this week play in his third match in the Isuzu Southern Kings strip after also being a substitute a fortnight ago against Cheetahs.
The experienced Berton Klaasen will be on Pretorius’ outside, as the centre returns to the starting XV to pair up with Fijian Meli Rokoua in the midfield.
In the forwards pack, loose-forward Stephan de Wit also makes a return to the starting XV in the place of the suspended CJ Velleman at openside flank.
The rest of the starting XV remains the same as the side that faced the Cheetahs in Bloemfontein in the narrow 36-40 defeat.
Following a day’s travel from Port Elizabeth to Cork earlier in the week ahead of Friday night encounter, the Southern Kings have adjusted well to conditions since arriving in Ireland on Tuesday.
“It was a long journey – about 26 hours of travelling – but it was good,” Captain, JC Astle, said on Thursday.
“We managed to get a lot of training done last week, and on Monday before we left Port Elizabeth where we focused on the things we want to do against Munster.
“We had rain in PE on Monday which prepared us for the conditions in Ireland. We are experiencing some cold weather in Ireland, between 2 and 10-degrees. We have had no rain so far, but underfoot it is quite wet, but we are adjusting, getting the feel of what it will be like on Friday.”
The side is expecting a tough encounter against a strong Munster side that leads Conference A at the moment. A win for the South African side will boost their confidence for the remainder of the three-week tour which includes matches against defending champs, Leinster, and Welsh side, Cardiff Blues.
“Munster is a very clinical side and are on top of Conference A, so we are expecting a hard match with clinical, good players who know how to do their job,” added Astle.
“The aim of the tour, after we have had a few good games in the past few weeks, is to improve on that. Getting a good start. It will be nice to go into the last two matches of the tour with heightened confidence and giving stern competition to some good teams.”
Southern Kings: 15 Masixole Banda, 14 Yaw Penxe, 13 Meli Rokoua, 12 Berton Klaasen, 11 Bjorn Basson, 10 Bader Pretorius, 9 Stefan Ungerer, 8 Ruaan Lerm, 7 Martinus Burger, 6 Stephan de Wit, 5 JC Astle (captain), 4 Andries van Schalkwyk, 3 De-Jay Terblanche, 2 Michael Willemse, 1 Schalk Ferreira
Replacements: 16 Alandre Van Rooyen, 17 Alulutho Tshakweni, 18 Pieter Scholtz, 19 Stephan Greeff, 20 Andisa Ntsila, 21 Sarel Pretorius, 22 Tertius Kruger, 23 Ulrich Beyers
Date: Friday, February 15
Venue: Irish Independent Park, Ireland
Kick-off: 19.35 (21.35 SA time)
Referee: Andrea Piardi (Italy)
Assistant referees: Sean Gallagher (Ireland), Matteo Liperini (FIR)
TMO: Alan Falzone (Italy)