Kings lock Steven Sykes is looking forward to playing against his former teammates when the Super Rugby newcomers face the Sharks on Saturday.
Sykes joined the Port Elizabeth franchise from the Sharks on a two-year deal as one of their marquee signings and was instrumental in their debut victory over the Western Force a fortnight ago.
The 28-year-old, who hails from Cradock in the Eastern Cape, began his career at the Sharks in 2005 and went on to become a two-time Currie Cup winner with the Durban team, who he represented in 109 Currie Cup and 69 Super Rugby matches.
The second row forward signed a three-year deal with Leinster but was released by the Irish club after just four appearances and rejoined the Sharks on a one-year contract before he opted to return to his roots by linking up with the Kings.
The move reunited Sykes with former Sharks teammate, Andries Strauss, who traded Bloemfontein for Port Elizabeth after two years at the Cheetahs, and the experienced pair form part of the leadership group of the Kings.
Sykes said he is relishing the encounter and believes they have earned the respect of the visitors as well as the other teams in the competition with their gutsy 22-10 home win.
“I think the people will treat us with a bit more respect than what they had before the season. I think we did very well in the first game that we played and we showed that we are here and we are here to stay. I don’t think people will send their second string sides down to us, so it’s a nice challenge for us as well,” Sykes said.
He added that he is also looking forward to playing in front of a full house at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium.
“The atmosphere at the game against the Force was amazing, probably the best I’ve experienced, and I am hoping that everyone will come out and support us again as we take on the Sharks,” he said.