New recruit for Kings' season-finale
TEAM ANNOUNCEMENT: New recruit Courtney Winnaar will make his debut for the Southern Kings, when they take on the Cheetahs in a Pro14 Round 21 clash in Bloemfontein on Saturday.
The 22-year-old East London-born will start at flyhalf at the Free State Stadium, in what will be the last fixture of the season for both the Southern Kings and Cheetahs.
Winnaar, a former Dale College pupil, is a graduate of the old Eastern Province Academy under the auspices of current Southern Kings Director of High-Performance Robbie Kempson.
He subsequently joined the Sharks in Durban in 2017 where he plied his trade until returning to his home province to join the Southern Kings a fortnight ago.
Winnaar is one of a number of changes to the Southern Kings backline this week.
Masixole Banda returns to the starting XV at fullback, where he replaces Ulrich Beyers. Fijian Meli Rokoua will start on the wing in the absence of top try-scorer Yaw Penxe, who is nursing a hamstring injury.
A new centre pairing will see Sibusiso Sithole partnering with Harlon Klaasen in the midfield.
While Winnaar will be playing his first match for the Southern Kings, Michael Willemse will be making his final appearance for the team before heading off to Scotland for a new chapter in his career.
Willemse will be part of a forwards pack that will also see a couple of injury-enforced changes.
Dries van Schalkwyk will return to lock after appearing blindside flank in the side’s previous match against Ospreys two weeks ago. He replaces Stephan Greeff, who suffered a facial injury at training earlier in the week.
Openside flank Stephan de Wit will earn a starting berth alongside blindside flank, Tienie Burger. Andisa Ntsila, who started in the No.6 jumper in the previous match, was unavailable for selection due to a rib injury.
“It’s been a tough week for us given the fact that this is our last game of what has been a long season. There were a few bumps and bruises that we had to sort out in the build-up to the match,” coach Deon Davids said.
“There has also been a sense of excitement with everyone looking forward to this last one after all the commitment and hard work during the course of the past year. We just want to enjoy and express ourselves in a positive manner in our last game.
“The last week is always tough because certain guys will be staying behind, while others will leave the franchise… We’ve done our best this week to prepare to the best of our ability.”
The Southern Kings will go in search of their first win over their local rivals in the Pro14 when the sides meet on Saturday.
The Port Elizabeth-based side is expecting nothing short of a hotly-contested battle between the two teams.
“We always give it our best shot. We always know that the Cheetahs are a tough opposition whether we play them in Port Elizabeth or Bloemfontein,” said Davids.
“If we want to beat them, we will have to be at our best. We will have to have all of our systems working, and we will have to be able to play beyond 80 minutes. That is exactly what we will try to do.”
Southern Kings: 15 Masixole Banda, 14 Meli Rokoua, 13 Harlon Klaasen, 12 Sibusiso Sithole, 11 Bjorn Basson, 10 Courtney Winnaar, 9 Stefan Ungerer, 8 Ruaan Lerm, 7 Martinus Burger, 6 Stephan De Wit, 5 John-Charles Astle (captain), 4 Andries Van Schalkwyk, 3 De-Jay Terblanche, 2 Michael Willemse, 1 Schalk Ferreira.
Replacements: 16 Alandre Van Rooyen, 17 Xandre Vos, 18 Lupumlo Mguca, 19 Schalk Oelofse, 20 Jurie Van Vuuren, 21 Rudi Van Rooyen, 22 Bader Pretorius, 23 Ntabeni Dukisa.
Date: Saturday, April 27
Venue: Free State Stadium, Bloemfontein
Kick-off: 17.30 (15.30 GMT)
Referee: Dan Jones (Wales)
Assistant referees: Aled Evans (Wales), Paul Mente (South Africa)
TMO: Johann Greeff (South Africa)