Two Springboks, four members of the back to back tournament-winning Springbok Sevens team, a member of the Aviva Premiership-winning Saracens, a Varsity Cup winner, a Heineken Cup finalist and three players with Super Rugby experience will be amongst those in the Contipartner Premier XV that will take on the Kings in Port Elizabeth on Saturday.
Coaches Brendan Venter and Paul Treu, who guided Saracens and the Springbok Sevens teams to respective tournament wins over the weekend, will be looking at the finals experiences of their squad as well in preparing them for this first ever clash between the sides.
The Contipartner Kings XV will be looking to play an entertaining brand of rugby to do justice to the compilation of the side, which shows a good mix of overseas-based players and some local talent.
No less than five French clubs are represented, with two Italian clubs provide that connection, and three Premiership sides from England providing players. The rest of the squad consists of local players from the Cheetahs and Bulls Super Rugby sides, Pumas, former Ikeys ace Matt Rosslee from the Griquas and true to the Barbarian tradition, a player yet to play provincial rugby, in this instance Varsity Cup-winning captain from the Ikey Tigers, Nick Fenton-Wells.
Petrus du Plessis (Saracens) was on the field at Twickenham as the final whistle went in favor of his side in the Premiership final against Leicester, but for Brett Sharman (Northampton Saints) and Rayno Gerber (Stade Francais), Cardiff was an unhappy place the week before as their sides lost to Leinster and Harlequins respectively in the Heineken Cup final and the European Challenge Cup final. Fenton-Wells lead his side to their first ever Varsity Cup earlier in the season.
The squad will assemble in Port Elizabeth on Thursday and according to match promoter Willem Strauss, will train twice before fronting up to the Kings, who will play their final warm-up match en route to Bucharest, Romania for the IRB Nations Cup.
“We were unlucky in losing someone like Kyle Brown due to injury on the weekend and Pieter Myburgh (Leicester) and Joe Pietersen (Bayonne) signed with local Super Rugby sides on Monday. Another, Marco Wentzel, transfered from Leeds to London Wasps and because of a calf strain, was not allowed by Wasps to travel to Port Elizabeth. Despite those setbacks, I believe this team can give the Kings a real go.”
The coaching staff will name their starting XV on Friday, but the invited squad looks as follows:
Cecil Afrika (Springbok Sevens), Danwel Demas (Aironi, Italy), Bernardo Botha (Springbok Sevens), Sam Gerber (Bayonne, France), Gcobani Bobo (Newcastle Falcons, England), Wilmaure Louw (Cheetahs Super 14), Matt Rosslee (Griquas), Marnitz Boshoff (Blue Bulls), Heini Adams (Begles-Bordeaux), Stefan Basson (Rovigo, Italy), Chris Dry (Springbok Sevens), Boom Prinsloo (Springbok Sevens), Doppies le Roux (Pumas), Nick Fenton-Wells (UCT Ikey Tigers), Wessel Jooste (Bourgoin, France), Juandre Kruger (Vodacom Bulls Super 14), Petrus du Plessis (Saracens, England), Danie Saayman (Castres, France), Rayno Gerber (Stade Francais, France), Brett Sharman (Northampton Saints, England), Hans van Dyk (Pumas).