Southern Kings skipper Michael Willemse carries the ball during a PRO 14 match against Italian side Zebre at Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium. Photo: Richard Huggard/BackpagePix
Southern Kings skipper Michael Willemse carries the ball during a PRO 14 match against Italian side Zebre at Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium. Photo: Richard Huggard/BackpagePix
Southern Kings coach Deon Davids speaks at a press conference. Photo: Deryck Foster/BackpagePix
Southern Kings coach Deon Davids speaks at a press conference. Photo: Deryck Foster/BackpagePix

JOHANNESBURG - The return of captain Michael Willemse at hooker was the most noteworthy change made to the Southern Kings starting XV by coach Deon Davids when he named his team for Saturday's Pro 14 fixture against the Cheetahs in Bloemfontein.

Now fully recovered from a long-term groin injury, Willemse replaces Stephan Coetzee in the number two jersey and also reclaims the captain's armband from Schalk Ferreira who deputised ably during his absence. In the only other change amongst the forwards Andisa Ntsila returns at number six flank in place of Eital Bredenkamp who moves to the bench.

The backline shows a number of changes to the one that did duty against the same opponents during the home fixture in Nelson Mandela Bay last weekend.

Injury to Oliver Zono means that Martin Du Toit moves from centre to flyhalf for the match in Bloemfontein, while Luzuko Vulindlu takes over from Du Toit in the number 12 jersey. There's a change at number 13 centre as well with Harlon Klaasen getting his first start of the season and Berton Klaasen moving to the bench.

In another change, Yaw Penxe switches from fullback to left wing in place of Anthony Volmink. Volmink reported a tight hamstring after last weekend's game and also missed a few days training due to illness this week.

"His absence is largely precautionary," said Davids. The coach also announced that Ntabeni Dukisa would fill the fullback position vacated by Penxe. 

"Ntabeni offers us an option as a placekicker and has made good use of the opportunities he's been given so far this season - he deserves a start."

He added that he had impressed on his team the need to learn from the lessons of their 45-21 defeat of last weekend. 

"We played well at times, particularly in the second half, but poor execution at critical times cost us and they were quick to capitalise. When you make errors against a quality side at this level they punish you," he said.

Kings team: 

15 Ntabeni Dukisa, 14 Michael Makase, 13 Harlon Klaasen, 12 Luzuko Vulindlu, 11 Yaw Penxe, 10 Martin du Toit, 9 Rowan Gouws, 8 Ruaan Lerm, 7 Tienie Burger, 6 Andisa Ntsila, 5 Bobby de Wee, 4 Stephan Greeff, 3 Pieter Scholtz, 2 Michael Willemse (captain), 1 Schalk Ferreira. Replacements: 16 Tango Balekile, 17 Johan Smith, 18 Dayan van der Westhuizen, 19 Lindokuhle Welemu, 20 Eital Bredenkamp, 21 Rudi van Rooyen, 22 Benhard Janse van Rensburg, 23 Berton Klaasen.

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