Cape Town - Centre Howard Mnisi will lead the Southern Kings on Saturday when they take on the Ospreys at Liberty Stadium in Swansea.
Kick-off is at 17:00 SA time.
Southern Kings interim head coach Rob Kempson named his 23-man match-day squad on Friday having made a few changes to the team that will see a change in leadership for the last of three matches of their South African side’s first European tour of the 2019/20 PRO14 season.
“Howard Mnisi is our captain,” confirmed Kempson following the return of the centre to the team after he had recovered from a calf injury sustained earlier on in the season.
“It is great to have him back from injury - all the experience he brings and the calmness he offers. He is one of our firm leaders in the team who has had a heavy influence.
“Tienie Burger will then be our vice-captain and will lead our forwards.”
Mnisi will pair up in midfield with Erich Cronje, who left the field last weekend following a knock to the neck, but has fully recovered to continue the good vein of form he has shown in the matches he has played so far.
“From a selection point of view, we have moved things around subtly,” said Kempson.
“With regards to our backs, we have brought in Scott van Breda, who will bring a bit of extra experience at the back in the conditions we are expecting on Saturday - there is quite a cold front that is expected to come through Wales, so we expect very tricky conditions throughout the game.
“Josiah Twum-Boafo comes onto the wing, getting his place with a couple of players slipping down to the bench in view of the ill-discipline and yellow cards in the previous game which we just cannot afford.”
In the forwards pack, Junior Springbok Elrigh Louw, who has shone each time he has come on from the bench in previous matches for the Southern Kings, will earn his first starting berth this weekend at No 8, where he replaces last weekend’s captain, Ruaan Lerm.
Aston Fortuin, who has been one of the standout forwards this season, will also be managed after playing almost every minute of the Southern Kings’ matches so far this season. The talented lock will play from the bench this week, with Jerry Sexton replacing him in the starting XV.
“Elrigh Louw, under the same circumstances, gets his opportunity. He has been excellent off the bench in the games up to now. He will start at No 8 in place of Ruaan Lerm,” said Kempson.
“As far as the locks are concerned, purely from a fatigue point of view, Aston Fortuin will be playing off the bench. He has been our standout lock so far in this season.
“He has a lot of minutes under the belt, so instead of risking him by playing a full game, we decided it was in his best interest to bring him off the bench, in view of the season that we have going forward.”
Experienced scrumhalf Sarel Pretorius, who has a wealth of knowledge of Welsh teams and conditions, will provide half-back cover from the bench as he will make his first appearance for the Southern Kings this season after recovering from a leg injury.
After last weekend’s emphatic defeat to Glasgow Warriors, Mnisi stressed that the side had put the unflattering result behind them as they hope to make amends this week against a “tough” Ospreys side that will also be looking to get onto a winning track.
“We just want to put the previous game behind us and focus on the next game, which is against the Ospreys. They are a team that is historically very dangerous, especially at home,” said Mnisi.
“They (Ospreys) have not had the best of results recently, similar to ourselves. So it will be a major battle on the day.
“Our boys are pretty excited. We aim to improve each week, just to get better. The guys who have been picked will hopefully put their hands up and stake their claim to each position.
“We are building a very decent side, even though the results don’t quite show it at the moment, but the guys are really working hard and they are sticking together. The team culture is getting a lot better - which is one of the most important things when building success in a side.
“All in all, we are pretty excited for the game. It will be physical, we expect an aerial game if you look at the conditions. It will be a battle up front, so we will look to curb their kicking game and whatever they bring on that front. We want to just go out there and enjoy ourselves, show the world what we are capable of doing.”
Kempson also pointed out that the team got together for some introspection following last weekend’s defeat and are now intent on regaining the confidence of their faithful supporters back home when they take on Ospreys.
“We had a good sit down after Glasgow and had a lot of introspection with regards to our players and the manner in which we played that game,” said Kempson.
“From a team point of view, we really wish to try inspire everyone back home with the manner we intend to play the game against the Ospreys. We are looking forward to putting up a good performance.”
15 Cai Evans, 14 Hanno Dirksen, 13 Tiaan Thomas-Wheeler, 12 Scott Williams, 11 Lesley Klim, 10 Luke Price, 9 Shaun Venter, 8 Morgan Morris, 7 Olly Cracknell, 6 Dan Lydiate (captain), 5 Lloyd Ashley, 4 Marvin Orie, 3 Tom Botha, 2 Scott Otten, 1 Rhodri Jones
Substitutes: 16 Sam Parry, 17 Gareth Thomas, 18 Ma’afu Fia, 19 Guido Volpi, 20 Sam Cross, 21 Matthew Aubrey, 22 James Hook, 23 Tom Williams
15 Scott van Breda, 14 Christopher Hollis, 13 Howard Mnisi (captain), 12 Erich Cronje, 11 Josiah Twum-Boafo, 10 JT Jackson, 9 Josh Allderman, 8 Elrigh Louw, 7 Thembelani Boli, 6 Tienie Burger, 5 Bobby de Wee, 4 Jerry Sexton, 3 Pieter Scholtz, 2 Jacques du Toit, 1 Juan Schoeman
Substitutes: 16 Alandre van Rooyen, 17 Xandre Vos, 18 Lupumlo Mguca, 19 Aston Fortuin, 20 Ruaan Lerm, 21 Sarel Pretorius, 22 Siya Masuku, 23 S’bura Sithole