Marais to start for EP in Currie Cup opener

Utility back and former Leopards Currie Cup star SP Marais will start at fullback for the Eastern Province Kings when they take on the South Western District Eagles in the opening First League rugby match of the Currie Cup season in Port Elizabeth on Friday.


He replaces Mzwandile Stick, who could not find a place in Alan Solomon’s match 22.


Stick was still the EP captain when they won the African Nations Cup in Romania recently.


However, Solomons said Stick’s absence is due to his rotation policy, but very few will argue that Stick is currently not on his best form.


Marais is unpredictable and that makes him so dangerous. He is a fast, a strong runner and needs very little space to greate overlaps for his team-mates.


Winger Marcello Sampson, who injured an ankle in Romania, returns to action and comes in for former SWD flyer Joe Breytenbach, who is on trial with the Kings.


In another interesting move former Shimlas star George Whitehead, who is at home at fullback and flyhalf, will make his EP debut from the bench. He replaces 19-year-old Shane Gates.


Meanwhile, EP captain Luke Watson has warned his team to cut down on their mistakes.


“Everybody is gunning for us. Therefore I expect the Eagles to come out firing and we need to be ready for their expected onslaught,” he said.


The Eastern Province team is:


SP Marais, Norman Nelson, Siyanda Grey, Wayne Stevens, Marcello Sampson, Louis Strydom, Falie Oelschig, Luke Watson (capt), Devin Oosthuizen, Jacques Potgieter, Ross Lennedy, Barend Pieterse, Clint Newland, Hannes Franklin, Jaco Engels.


Replacements: Riaan Vermeulen, Frank Herne, Wayne van Heerden, Jacques Engelbrecht, Danie Faasen, George Whitehead, Jaco Bekker.

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