Kings sucked into Game of Thrones

Kings for a …? The Southern Kings will be playing for their very survival in their maiden season in Super Rugby when they take no the Waratahs. Photo: Gallo ImagesPort Elizabeth: Super Rugby’s newest side has more than respect and legitimacy to play for; the Kings are playing for sheer survival.
Nanjing Night Net

As the controversial new entrants to the South African conference, having taken the place of the under-performing Lions towards the end of last year, there are no guarantees of a future beyond this season.

Despite toppling the Western Force to become the only Super Rugby debutants to win their first game, the Kings continue to track at the bottom of their conference and will face the Lions in a two-game promotion-relegation fixture if the status quo remains.

And while it is impossible to imagine the Rebels – Australia’s youngest club – having to operate under such uncertainty, it has been a daily reality for Kings staff and players who have no capacity to plan or look ahead.

Kings director of rugby Alan Solomons said early on he decided he could not worry about anything beyond the next game.

“The key thing for us is that we’ve got to do the best we can in every game, and if at the end despite that we have to play promotion-relegation that’s the hand we’ve been dealt and we have to deal with that,” he said.

“But I’m pretty confident we’ve developed as a side, and we are absolutely determined to remain in Super Rugby.”

Solomons and his head coach, the former Canterbury and Crusaders hooker Matt Sexton, made just one change to the side that succumbed to the Cheetahs in Bloemfontein last week, returning prodigal young winger Sergeal Petersen to the starting line up after the 18-year-old was cleared of a groin strain.

Captain Luke Watson, who fractured cartilage in his throat against the Force in round one, will again be on the bench, leaving intact promising back row trio Jacques Engelbrecht, Wimpie van der Walt and Cornell du Preez.

Solomons said there was no formula to the side’s success against Australian sides, and a win against the Waratahs would not come easily.

“It’s just worked that way … we were a determined lot against the Brumbies [28-28 draw] and we played very, very well in that game,” he said.

“Aganst the Rebels we didn’t play as well but I think we deserved the win, while the Force was our opening game, and it was going to take a lot to beat us. There was a lot of emotion running high.”

Solomons gave nothing away about how the Kings would tackle the Waratahs, and was coy when asked if he had pored over footage from last week’s loss to the Bulls. Stand-in captain Andries Strauss signalled he did not want his side drawn into a fight they could not win.

“They do throw the ball around a lot and play from anywhere on the field,” he said.

“Ideally we’d like to stick to our structures and not fall into the trap of throwing the ball around willy-nilly. We’re really just focusing on doing the things we want to do right, and hopefully we can get the right result.”

Kings: George Whitehead, Sergeal Petersen, Ronnie Cooke, Andries Strauss (c), Siyanda Grey, Demetri Catrakilis, Shaun Venter, Jacques Engelbrecht, Wimpie van der Walt, Cornell du Preez, Rynier Bernardo, Steve Sykes, Kevin Buys, Bandise Maku, Schalk Ferreira. Reserves: Virgile Lacombe, Grant Kemp, David Bulbring, Luke Watson, Nocola Vergallo, Waylon Muray, Siviwe Soyizwapi

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

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