Isuzu Southern Kings’ former Junior Springbok, Elrigh Louw, is eager to face his former team, the Toyota Cheetahs, when the two sides square up for their second Guinness PRO14 derby in Bloemfontein on Saturday, February 1.
The 20-year-old loose-forward has been one of the standout players in the Isuzu Southern Kings team so far this season, playing in all nine fixtures the Port Elizabeth-based side has featured in.
Louw was one of the players who came off the field dejected following the narrow 30-31 defeat to the Cheetahs at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium last week. However, focus has shifted to one of excitement this week as he and his compeers travel to the Free State Stadium this week to face his former side.
“We are really excited. Personally, I can’t wait to take to the field and make a statement,” said Louw ahead of the second of three South African derbies.
“I think we threw the previous game away in the dying seconds, so we have an opportunity to make amends this week.”
Just as the previous fixture was a tough, physical contest, Louw is under no illusions that things will be any less gruelling in the City of Roses this week.
“If you thought the battle in PE was tough, there is something bigger that’s coming this weekend in Bloemfontein,” he said.
“They are going to play a fast game – quick lineouts, quick throw-ins. But we will play at our own tempo and have a good go at them.
“We have an internal plan and goal. We don’t want to lose sight of that, and we will take it a step at a time.”
The Isuzu Southern Kings will go into the match with a few changes to the team that was on duty in the Friendly City last week.
Loosehead prop, Cameron Dawson will make his Guinness PRO14 and official Isuzu Southern Kings debut this week after recovering from a foot injury he sustained in a pre-season warmup match against Georgia in Tbilisi last August.
He replaces the experienced Schalk Ferreira in the starting XV, with the veteran expected to provide cover from the bench.
Lock JC Astle will also make a return to the team with a starting berth, replacing Aston Fortuin, who sustained an injury during training this week.
Scrumhalf Theo Maree, who is on loan from the Bulls, will also be in the starting lineup this week where he takes the place of last week’s captain, Stefan Ungerer, who sustained a quad injury in the clash with the Cheetahs last week.
Hooker Jacques du Toit will take over the captaincy reins.
The final change to the starting XV will see the versatile Andell Loubser donning the No15 jersey where he replaces Masixole Banda, who played his 50th match for the Isuzu Southern Kings last week.
The Kings bench has received a massive boost with the return of experienced duo Demetri Catrakilis and Howard Mnisi from injury. The pair is expected to bring calm and composure in the latter stages of the clash in Bloemfontein.
The Isuzu Southern Kings: 1. Cameron Dawson, 2. Jacques du Toit (C), 3. Rossouw de Klerk, 4. JC Astle, 5. Jerry Sexton, 6. Ruaan Lerm, 7. Thembelani Bholi, 8. Elrigh Louw, 9. Theo Maree, 10. Bader Pretorius, 11. Erich Cronje, 12. JT Jackson, 13. Sibusiso Sithole, 14. Yaw Penxe, 15. Andell Loubser. Replacements: 16. Andre van Rooyen, 17. Schalk Ferreira, 18. Ig Prinsloo, 19. Bobby de Wee, 20. Lusanda Badiyana, 21. Josh Allderman, 22. Demetri Catrakilis, 23. Howard Mnisi.