Lock JC Astle will lead a Southern Kings side featuring a blend of youth and experience against the Cardiff Blues, to kickoff their PRO14 season on Saturday.
Interim coach Robbi Kempson has re-appointed Astle as captain for the 2019/2020 campaign, with scrumhalf Stefan Ungerer serving as the squad’s vice-captain.
Kempson has included six PRO14 Rugby debutants in the starting lineup to face the men from the Welsh captial.
Jerry Sexton – brother of Irish flyhalf Jonny – along with centres JT Jackson and Howard Mnisi, wing Christopher Hollis, fullback Andell Loubser and the returning Demetri Catrakilis, will all be making their first starts for the team from Port Elizabeth.
On the bench, lock Aston Fortuin, utility forward Elrigh Louw, scrumhalf Josh Allderman and hooker Jacques du Toit – formally of PRO14 rivals the Cheetahs – will also earn their first caps for the franchise.
Kempson believes that starting off well in their first home game of the season is vital for the Kings, who have struggled to string together multiple victories since their inclusion in the competition.
‘A good start is quite important for us, but I think what is more important is the manner in which we play,’ said Kempson.
‘Cardiff Blues have a very experienced pack and have a lot of old heads in their backline as well. It will be a good test, particularly for our young players who will get their first opportunity in the PRO14.’
The Kings will be hoping to begin their campaign on a positive note after finishing at the bottom of Conference B last season, picking up just 2 wins from 21 matches.
Kick-off is at 4pm at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium.
Southern Kings – 15 Andell Loubser, 14 Christopher Hollis, 13 Howard Mnisi, 12 JT Jackson, 11 Yaw Penxe, 10 Demetri Catrakilis, 9 Stefan Ungerer, 8 Lusanda Badiyana, 7 Arthur de Wee, 6 Martinus Burger, 5 JC Astle (c), 4 Jerry Sexton, 3 Pieter Scholtz, 2 Alandre Van Rooyen, 1 Alulutho Tshakweni.
Subs: 16 Jacques Du Toit, 17 Xandre Vos, 18 Rossouw De Klerk, 19 Aston Fortuin, 20 Elrigh Louw, 21 Josh Allderman, 22 Bader Pretorius, 23 Sibusiso Sithole.
Picture: Southern Kings website