Should the visitors win, it will be the fifth consecutive victory over the Kings.
Pat Lambie returns at flyhalf, something many Sharks fans may celebrate. Others may miss the young star who deputised for him while out injured, Curwin Bosch, who has joined the Junior Springboks for the World Rugby Under-20 Championship. His assurance and reliably accurate boot have put the youngster in the reckoning for full a senior Bok cap against the touring French in June.
The Kings loose trio may well look to exploit any chink in Lambie’s armour, as he starts for the first time since the Sharks home game against the Waratahs in early March.
Lambie is confident, however: “It’s great to be back. It’s never nice to be sitting watching from the sidelines, although thankfully it went relatively quickly and it’s been fantastic to be back with the team over the last couple of weeks.”
Having been a spectator for two months, he’s ideally placed to summarise the team’s fortunes in his absence.
“There have been some good weeks and some not so good weeks, but all in all I’m pleased to see how the side’s been tracking.
“We gave ourselves a good chance at a bonus point last week in a good performance against the Force, so what we want at this stage is to build some nice momentum before the June break.
“We have some tough games ahead, but if we put in good performances, we’ll be sitting in a really good position by then.”
Coach Robert du Preez knows just how big a challenge his charges face against the Kings, who would love nothing better than getting one over their coastal rivals.
“It’s going to be really tough down there, the Kings have been playing very good rugby, but we’re going to PE to do a job and that’s to bring the four points back.”
One Kings player earning plenty of praise is former junior Sharks flank Chris Cloete, who has become a danger to opposition teams, especially around the tackle area, with his superior poaching ability.
Du Preez observed: “He’s tough, he’s strong on the ball and we’re going to have to take care of him properly, to eliminate him as a threat at the breakdown. In saying that, we’ll play our game.”
Port Elizabeth is being hyped up, with a call to fill the stadium against the Sharks.
The Sharks coach added: “That’s fantastic for rugby. It’s a region with a proud history and it’s awesome to see and to know there are going to be a lot of spectators on Saturday. It’s always nice to play in front of a big crowd.”
Feeding off turnovers and broken play is the Kings speciality and the Sharks coach is aware of their counter-attacking menace: “That’s exactly how they play, they’re a really good side with some very good rugby players.”
Pat Lambie, too, is expecting the Kings to be fired up and looking to impress their home crowd.
He said: “It’s important that we all maintain calm heads and keep our cool. We have a job to do with a focus on playing hard and fair. We know that they are going to be up for it, especially with the expectation of a big turnout of fans. Hopefully, that atmosphere is something we can draw on as well.”