NIPPY scrumhalf Scott Mathie has been included in the EP Kings' starting lineup for their make- or-break Absa Currie Cup First Division rugby match against the Pumas at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium on Friday (kick-off 7.10pm).
The inclusion of Mathie is the only change to the EP starting lineup that thrashed the Griffons 60-19 last week as the Kings bid to bring continuity to their selection process as the season reaches a climax.
Mathie makes the lineup at the expense of Falie Oelschig who moves to the bench in the only change to the squad of 22 that did duty against the Griffons.
If the Kings beat the Pumas, they will finish top of the First Division and clinch a berth in the playoffs for a spot in the Currie Cup Premier Division.
"The 22 named for Friday's game against the Griffons are exactly the same as last week's squad.
We have been looking at consistency in selection over the past three weeks since our game against Border," EP director of rugby Alan Solomons said when he named the team yesterday. "Scott is an experienced player. He did very well in the back 30 minutes when he came on against the Griffons last week and he deserves this opportunity."
Mathie impressed against the Griffons and another good showing on Friday could see him playing a vital role in decisive playoff matches at the end of the season.
Before joining the Kings, he played for the Blue Bulls and Sharks in South Africa, and Leeds and Sale Sharks in England.
As expected, dynamic Samoan wing Paul Perez was included in the starting lineup after early fears he might miss Friday's game after leaving the field with ice on his wrist against the Griffons.
In-form flyhalf George Whitehead, who scored a try and nailed six conversions and a penalty against the Griffons, also starts against the Pumas while Wesley Dunlop remains on the bench.
Meanwhile, the Kings are holding a media conference today to name their new signings ahead of their debut in Super Rugby next year.
It is expected that EP president Cheeky Watson will confirm the signing of lock Steven Sykes (Sharks), centre Andries Strauss (Cheetahs) and flyhalf Demetri Catrakilis (Western Province).
There has been speculation the Kings have also lined up an Argentine scrumhalf to boost their squad for their massive Super Rugby challenge.