easternprovincerugby.com and James Mortimer 22.Mar.2013Getty Images
“Schalk Ferreira, who I think is an exemplary player, who always gives everything in every game, will no doubt lead by example, and Ronnie Cooke as Vice Captain has shifted in fantastically, he is a superb player and a superb bloke,” said Director of Rugby, Alan Solomons.
Solomons said the game would be a big test for the team, both in terms of leadership and depth.
“Certain players weren’t available, Steven Sykes took a knock and wasn’t available and we didn’t want to risk Andries [Strauss]. He’s much better, but he’s still a little bit bruised around the AC joint, and neither of them was considered for this particular game.”
Solomons said over and above Sykes and Strauss, they were also missing team leaders Darron Nell and Luke Watson, who stayed home due to injury, as well as SP Marais who started in all three home games at fullback.
“For the rest we tried to get a measure of consistency again in our selection,” he said, “but, while there is a level of consistency, what is also nice is that there are opportunities for players.”
“Rynier Bernado comes in on the bench, obviously with Steve being out. I think it’s a great opportunity. Here’s a guy from Framesby, out of the academy, playing Super Rugby. I’ve said it before it’s the green shoots of what Robbie [Kempston] is doing at the academy and it’s fantastic,” said Solomons.
“What’s also fantastic to see is Waylon Murray, who had 30 minutes against Border [in the EP Kings Vodacom Cup game last week]. He basically hasn’t played for a year and its fantastic having him as part of the setup. It’s fantastic for him personally and for the team,” Solomons said.
Solomons said the change of players on the tour would also add its own set of challenges, with Devin Oosthuizen and Edgar Marutlulle both named on the bench for Saturday.
“Obviously for Devin and Edgar, it’s quite tough for them. They only arrive tomorrow morning at 9am.”
“They’re absolutely a top side, and what I regard as a measure of respect, they’ve chosen their best team. They have picked their strongest possible team and for us I think that’s a huge challenge, but they’ve shown us that respect,” he said.