Michael Willemse (centre) after scoring a try against the Waratahs. Photo: EPA/CRAIG GOLDING
Michael Willemse (centre) after scoring a try against the Waratahs. Photo: EPA/CRAIG GOLDING
Southern King's coach Deon Davids (right) and former captain and flyhalf Lionel Cronje, who has left for Japan. Photo: Richard Huggard/BackpagePix
Southern King's coach Deon Davids (right) and former captain and flyhalf Lionel Cronje, who has left for Japan. Photo: Richard Huggard/BackpagePix

JOHANNESBURG - Southern Kings coach Deon Davids has announced his 27-man touring squad that will open their PRO14 season with an encounter against defending champions, the Scarlets, in Wales before travelling to Ireland to take on Connacht.

Davids also named Michael Willemse as captain for the tour. In confirming the 24-year-old Willemse as the first Southern Kings captain in the PRO14 Championship, Davids described the decision to select the hooker as the team leader as a “natural” one.

Willemse, who was part of the Southern Kings’ Vodacom Super Rugby side earlier in the year, re-joined the Eastern Cape side after having moved to the Golden Lions in July.

Willemse joined the Southern Kings for the 2017 Vodacom Super Rugby season after having represented the Stormers from 2014 to 2016.

The Cape Town-born hooker has previously represented South Africa at Under-20 level at the World Rugby Under-20 Champs in 2013 where he made five appearances.

The 1.85m, 104kg front-rower attended Grey High School in Port Elizabeth before furthering his rugby at the University of Cape Town prior to joining Western Province.

Davids also named a 27-member squad for the tour – 15 forwards and 12 backs – including 10 players who were part of the Southern Kings’ Vodacom Super Rugby campaign. 

The squad is also not lacking in players with experience in playing in the PRO14 competition. Loose-forward Dries van Schalkwyk, formerly with Zebre, and Rossouw de Klerk, formerly with Glasgow Warriors, are part of the Southern Kings’ touring squad.

The touring squad will leave South Africa on Tuesday for Wales, where they will face the Scarlets on Saturday. Davids will name the Kings' match-day squad for the opening match on Thursday.

Southern Kings Squad 

Forwards: Tango Balekile, Stephan Coetzee, Rossouw de Klerk, Bobby de Wee, Martin Dreyer, Schalk Ferreira, Khaya Majola, Siyabulela Mdaka, Andisa Ntsila, Luvuyo Pupuma, Victor Sekekete, Entienne Swanepoel, Dries van Schalkwyk, Jurie van Vuuren, Michael Willemse (captain). 

Backs: Masixole Banda, Kurt Coleman, Ntabeni Dukisa, Rowan Gouws, Berton Klaasen, Godlen Masimla, Jacques Nel, Yaw Penxe, Sibusiso Sithole, Rudi van Rooyen, Luzuko Vulindlu, Oliver Zono. 

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