Banda in, Penxe out for Kings
TEAM ANNOUNCEMENT: There are minimal changes to the Southern Kings starting XV for their Pro14 clash against the Dragons at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium on Friday.
Back on home soil after a difficult three-match tour of Europe, Davids decided to keep faith with the bulk of the players who started against Leinster last weekend.
There is a single change in the backline where Masixole Banda returns in place of Yaw Penxe whilst the forward pack sees Andisa Ntsila returned to his favoured position at No.6 flank from the No.8 spot he occupied against Leinster. Ruaan Lerm returns to the run-on XV in the No.8 position vacated by Ntsila.
There was greater selection activity on the bench where the experienced Kurt Coleman (flyhalf) and Dries Van Schalkwyk (loose forward) are returned to the matchday 23 at the expense of Eital Bredenkamp and Barend Janse Van Rensburg. Scrumhalf Godlen Masimla also comes in place of Juan-Philip Smith.
Michael Willemse, who was one of the Kings players to show up well against Leinster – scoring a try – will once again captain the team from the hooker position.
Still searching for a first win in this year's Pro14 Championship the Kings are determined to celebrate their return to familiar conditions with a good performance against a Dragons team that they ran quite close in the corresponding away fixture.
"Every team in an international competition like this presents a tough challenge and the Dragons are no different but I expect a strong reaction from my team to last week's blowout against Leinster.
"Everyone is determined to make up for what was a bad day at the office. We've played really well at times this season and it's now time we put in an 80-minute performance at that level.
"If we execute properly and cut down on some basic errors then we'll be in with a shout. Errors at this level are severely punished," said head coach Deon Davids.
Southern Kings: 15 Masixole Banda, 14 Michael Makase, 13 Berton Klaasen, 12 Luzuko Vulindlu, 11 Anthonie Volmink, 10 Martin Du Toit. 9 Rowan Gouws, 8 Ruaan Lerm, 7 Martinus Burger, 6 Andisa Ntsila, 5 Bobby De Wee, 4 Stephan Greeff, 3 Pieter Scholtz, 2 Michael Willemse (captain), 1 Schalk Ferreira.
Replacements: 16 Stephan Coetzee, 17 Johan Smith, 18 Luvuyo Pupuma, 19 Lindokuhle Welemu, 20 Andries Van Schalkwyk, 21 Godlen Masimla, 22 Kurt Coleman, 23 Jacques Nel.
Dragons: 15 Zane Kirchner, 14 Ashton Hewitt, 13 Jarryd Sage, 12 Jack Dixon, 11 Jared Rosser, 10 Dorian Jones, 9 Sarel Pretorius; 1 Sam Hobbs, 2 Liam Belcher, 3 Leon Brown, 4 Joe Davies, 5 Rynard Landman, 6 Harri Keddie, 7 Ollie Griffiths, 8 Lewis Evans (captain), 7 Ollie Griffiths, 6 Harri Keddie, 5 Rynard Landman, 4 Joe Davies, 3 Leon Brown, 2 Liam Belcher, 1 Sam Hobbs.
Replacements: 16 Ellis Shipp, 17 Gerard Ellis, 18 Lloyd Fairbrother, 19 Max Williams, 20 James Benjamin, 21 Dan Babos, 22 Connor Edwards, 23 Rio Dyer.
Date: Friday, March 2
Venue: Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium, Port Elizabeth
Kick-off: 19.35 (17.35 UK & Ireland Time; 17.35 GMT)
Referee: Quinton Immelman (South Africa)
Assistant referees: Cwengile Jadezweni (South Africa), Rodney Boneparte (South Africa)
TMO: Shaun Veldsman (South Africa)