Southern Kings Head Coach Deon Davids indulged in minimal tinkering to his squad when he announced the 23 players to face up to Leinster in a historic PRO14 clash at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium today.
It will be the Kings first home match in the competition as well as the first time that PRO14 matches are played on South African soil and hooker Micheal Willemse will once again have the honour of leading the team onto the field.
Only one change has been made in the Kings backline from the team that did duty against Connacht last weekend – scrumhalf Rudi van Rooyen coming in for Godlen Masimla who drops to the bench.
Amongst the front-row, an injury to Rossouw De Klerk has resulted in Luvuyo Pupuma being rewarded for his try-scoring performance against Connacht by being included in the starting XV while Petrus Strauss and Martin Dreyer have been brought onto the bench. There is also a change at lock where Stephan Greeff takes over from Jurie Van Vuuren.
Coach Davids cut a satisfied figure as he ran the rule over his charges during a boisterous open practice session this morning. “It’s great to be back on home soil and we are looking forward to the game against Leinster on Saturday.
We plan on giving everything we have to entertain the fans and we’re hoping they turn out in large numbers to cheer us on,” he said.
Southern Kings COO Charl Crous shared similar sentiments: “There are many times that home support has given the Kings that extra bit of lift that’s necessary when things get tough and we are definitely going to need our fans to come to the party again on Saturday.”
Crous also confirmed that official Southern Kings supporters gear will be available to the public from mid October.
“We have had numerous requests from fans regarding this and are working as fast as we can with our suppliers to get kit for our supporters to wear.
It’s unfortunately one of the side-effects of our late inclusion in the PRO14 but it’s one which we soon hope to have solved,” he said
Tickets for today’s match at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium – which kicks off at 14h15 – are on sale at all Ticket Pro outlets as well as online at www.ticketpros.co.za and start from as little as R50 per ticket.
Leinster: J Carbery, A Byrne, R O’Loughlin, N Reid, D Kearney, R Byrne, L McGrath, E Byrne, S Cronin, A Porter, R Molony, J Ryan, R Ruddock, J Murphy, J Conan.
Replacements: J Tracy, C Healy, M Bent, M Kearney, J van der Flier, N McCarthy, C Marsh, J Larmour.
Southern Kings: M Banda, Y Penxe, B Klaasen, L Vulindlu, S Sithole, K Coleman, R van Rooyen, S Ferreira, M Willemse, L Pupuma, S Greeff, D van Schalkwyk, K Majola, V Sekekete, A Ntsila
Replacements: S Coetzee, P Strauss, M Dreyer, B de Wee, S Mdaka, G Masimla, N Dukisa/O Zono, J Nel