Sykes starts for Kings

Steven Sykes is one of four changes to the EP Kings pack to face the Blue Bulls at Loftus Versfeld on Saturday.

The two-time Currie Cup winner will add some much-needed grunt up front, where he will partner the experienced Darron Nell in an all-new second row.

Elsewhere in the pack, Paul Schoeman takes over from Thembelani Bholi at blindside flank, while captain Luke Watson makes his return after missing the loss to the Golden Lions with flu.

In the only change among the backs, Tobie Botes misses out with a wrist injury, meaning Kevin Luiters gets his chance after two lively performances from the bench.

Coach Carlos Spencer has come under some pressure following two heavy defeats, but he was upbeat ahead of the match in Pretoria.

'We have brought back players like Steven Sykes and Darron Nell to add some physicality up front – which is something we lacked against the Lions and really need against this Bulls outfit.

'Darron and Steve have good experience and we have lacked that when we have fallen behind in matches.

'Luke is also vital to the team, providing more experience to the pack, and it's crucial for us, as a team, to have him for the full 80 minutes.'

The Kings shipped nine tries against the Lions, and Spencer knows they'll need an improved defensive effort if they are to turn the tide against the Bulls.

'We have spoken all week about the need for urgency and commitment, which is something we lacked in abundance against the Lions,' Spencer said.

'We know the Bulls have their backs to the wall and will come out firing, and if we don't match that aggression, we will come second.'

EP Kings – 15 Scott van Breda, 14 Ronnie Cooke, 13 Tim Whitehead, 12 Shane Gates, 11 Siviwe Soyizwapi, 10 Gary van Aswegen, 9 Kevin Luiters, 8 Luke Watson (c), 7 Paul Schoeman, 6 Stefan Willemse, 5 Steven Sykes, 4 Darron Nell, 3 Tom Botha, 2 Edgar Marutlulle, 1 Lizo Gqoboka.
Subs: 16 Mike van Vuuren, 17 Charles Marais, 18 Steven Cummins, 19 Thembelani Bholi, 20 Jaco Grobler, 21 George Whitehead, 22 Siyanda Grey.

Photo: Michael Sheehan/Gallo Images