DYNAMIC EP Kings hooker Albe de Swardt says he can feel the derby vibe building for his team's crunch showdown against the Border Bulldogs in East London tomorrow.
The hard-working De Swardt, 23, will be a key man as the Kings attempt to subdue the fiery Bulldogs pack in their final league match before the semifinal playoffs next month.
"This is the first time I am playing against the Bulldogs this season. I can feel the vibe has been nice and high during this week. Everyone knows it is an important game for us," De Swardt said.
"It is important for the Bulldogs as well because if they can win they will have ended their season well. It is nice to be part of the derby feeling."
De Swardt, a product of Outeniqua High in George, says the Kings have been working hard on their game in training this week after an unconvincing 30-24 win over the Falcons at Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium last Friday.
"We have corrected the small mistakes we made against the Falcons and we are well prepared. We know it will be a hard game because they have a strong pack of forwards.
"The Bulldogs are playing good rugby at the end of the season, but we are positive about the game and will take them on in East London," De Swardt said.
The hooker, who is easily distinguished on the field with his long blond hair, has signed a two-year contract at the Kings and says he is pleased he grabbed his chance when he was selected to play for the senior team.
"I am very thankful for the opportunities I have been given and that I took them," De Swardt said.
The robust hooker says he enjoys playing it hard among the forwards and his aggressive play will be vital for the Kings when they face up to a motivated Bulldogs pack.
De Swardt said he had learnt valuable lessons about forward play when he had a spell for the Italian National Championship of Excellence team L'Aquila last year.
"In Italy it was a bit slower and more of a hard forward game and I like that type of rugby. The quality of rugby is not as good as South African rugby, but I enjoyed it a lot. It was a learning curve for me to play rugby at a higher level."
De Swardt played for the SWD Eagles at the under-16 Grant Khomo Week in 2006 and the U18 Craven Week in 2008 before joining Western Province. He played for them in the U19 and U21 Currie Cup between 2009 and 2011.
During this time he also played for Maties in the 2011 and 2012 Varsity Cup competitions.
He also represented the successful NMMU Madibaz in the Varsity Cup this year.
After the weekend matches, the Pumas (61 points), EP Kings (46 points), SWD Eagles (41 points) and Leopards (39 points) have all booked their semifinal berths with one pool round remaining.
The fixtures are:
Tomorrow: Boland Cavaliers v Griffons (Wellington, 3pm), Border Bulldogs v EP Kings (East London 3pm), SWD Eagles v Leopards (George) 7pm.
Saturday: Falcons v Pumas (Kempton Park 3pm).