Kings leave Watson behind
The Kings will leave for the overseas leg of their Super Rugby campaign without regular skipper Luke Watson.
Kings director of rugby Alan Solomons said the loose forward had not fully recovered from his throat injury and they were not prepared to risk taking him on tour.
“There are a few bumps and bruises that need assessment and we will look at those before finalising our tour squad,” said Solomons.
“We have 35 players in the group that are on standby to tour and we will whittle it down according to who is fit.
"What I can tell you is that Luke Watson won’t be touring. He has visited a specialist and we won’t be risking him as he is not 100 per cent fit.”
Meanwhile, the Kings will be targeting further improvement in their overall play as they contemplate their most challenging part of the season.
The competition rookies lost their second match in a row out of three straight home games when they went down 35-24 to the Chiefs in Port Elizabeth on Friday, but delivered another gutsy performance as they strove to prove they belonged in the tournament.
Not helping the Kings' cause on Friday was the late withdrawal of captain and lock Darron Nell through injury, meaning Steven Sykes had to step into the leadership role, their third captain in as many matches.
Watson had been sidelined after suffering a blow to the throat halfway through their first match, while vice-captain Andries Strauss started Friday's game on the bench.
"It was bit tough with Darron getting injured in the warm-up," Sykes said after the game.
"But they are the defending champions, so we always knew it was going to be a tough game, but I think we did well. We must just keep holding on to the ball a bit more."
Ball retention has been a recurring theme for the Kings, who have been outstanding defensively, but have not had many opportunities on attack.
"The most important thing for us is to improve week after week," said Sykes.
"We held on to the ball more than last week. It is something we need to keep working on, but I felt we gave our backs more ball from the set piece tonight."
Sykes added that the team were looking forward to the trip overseas and their first match against the Crusaders on Saturday.
"For lots of them [Kings players] it will be the first tour so we hope everyone has recovered from tonight [Friday night] before we fly out on Sunday."