Michael Willemse (left) is back in coach Deon Davids' Southern Kinds side v the Cheetahs. Photo: Frikkie Kapp/BackpagePix

PORT ELIZABETH – Isuzu Southern Kings coach Deon Davids has selected an experienced match-day squad to take on the Toyota Cheetahs in the Guinness Pro14 South African derby at the Nelson Mandela University’s Madibaz Stadium on Friday night.

After a hard week of preparation for the first of three SA derbies for the 2018/19 Guinness PRO14 season, Davids named his squad of 23 on Thursday which includes six changes to the starting XV that played in the Isuzu Southern Kings’ first match for 2019 a fortnight ago.

Loosehead prop Schalk Ferreira will make a return to the side, together with hooker Michael Willemse in the changes to the front row.

Flanker Henry “Bakkies” Brown will also make a return to the team following a three-month injury layoff after having recovered from an ankle injury.

In the backline, Springbok winger Bjorn Basson makes a return in the No11 jersey, while Berton Klaasen will again form a midfield partnership with Tertius Kruger.

Ntabeni Dukisa will earn a starting berth at flyhalf, replacing Martin du Toit who will be on the bench.

Andisa Ntsila also returns to play after recovering from a knee injury to provide loose-forward cover. So too has the prop, Rossouw de Klerk, been included on the bench following his recovery from a chest injury.

“We have selected a rather experienced side this week as we are fortunate to have quite a few of our players back from some lengthy injuries,” Davids said.

“We know that this derby against the Cheetahs will be a tough encounter, so we are happy to be able to pick from a large pool of players in order to have one of the strongest possible sides for the important match.”

Yaw Penxe will have the No14 jersey against the Cheetahs this weekend. Photo: Ryan Wilkisky/BackpagePix
Yaw Penxe will have the No14 jersey against the Cheetahs on Friday. Photo: Ryan Wilkisky/BackpagePix

While there may be close ties between the Isuzu Southern Kings and Toyota Cheetahs, with players in both teams having played for the other, all emotions will be put aside for the 80 minutes the teams will battle it out for the bragging rights to the derby.

“The Isuzu Southern Kings will always have a special place in my heart because that is where things started for me and they gave me a chance to live out my potential, but that is in the past. I’m now with the Toyota Cheetahs and just want to play to my full potential this weekend and make a difference,” said Uitenhage-born Cheetahs fullback, Malcolm Jaer. 

Lock Sintu Manjezi added: “I’m excited to be going against the Isuzu Southern Kings, there’s no love lost. I appreciate everything the Kings, and especially the Kings Academy has done to develop my rugby career.”

A close encounter, high in intensity, can be expected when the two sides meet at 19h00 on Friday.

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“This derby is, personally, special as it is against my former my team and I’m looking forward to the challenge. I know it will be a thrilling and exciting match as I believe both teams will throw everything to get the win this weekend,” said Cheetahs’ loose-forward Junior Pokomela.

Another ex-Isuzu Southern Kings player, Aidon Davis, added: “The fans can definitely expect physicality and running rugby from both team, and hopefully the wind stays away for this one in the Windy City.”

The Southern Kings team is: 

15 Masixole Banda, 14 Yaw Penxe, 13 Tertius Kruger, 12 Berton Klaasen, 11 Bjorn Basson, 10 Ntabeni Dukisa 9 Stefan Ungerer, 8 Ruaan Lerm, 7 Henry Brown, 6 Cyril-John Velleman, 5 John-Charles Astle (captain), 4 Stephan Greeff, 3 Nicolaas Oosthuizen, 2 Michael Willemse, 1 Schalk Ferreira

Substitutes: 16 Alandre van Rooyen, 17 Lumpumlo Mguca, 18 Rossouw de Klerk, 19 Andries van Schalkwyk, 20 Andisa Ntsila, 21 Sarel Pretorius, 22 Martin du Toit, 23 Harlon Klaasen 

African News Agency (ANA)

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