PRO14

Willemse to captain Kings in PRO14

Michael Willemse (Getty Images)
Michael Willemse (Getty Images)

Cape Town - Southern Kings hooker, Michael Willemse, will lead the Port Elizabeth side on their maiden PRO14 tour.

Head coach Deon Davids announced his 27-man touring squad on Monday that will open their Guinness PRO14 season with an encounter against defending champions, the Scarlets, in Wales before travelling to Ireland to take on Connacht. He confirmed the hard-working Willemse as captain for the tour.

In confirming the 24-year-old Willemse as the first Southern Kings captain in the Guinness 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’ Super Rugby side earlier in the year, re-joined the Eastern Cape side after having moved to the Golden Lions in July.

“I have decided that Michael Willemse will lead this group on this tour,” Davids said on Monday.

“He re-joined us and has been with us for about a week. Mike is quite familiar with our team culture and the way we play.

“I think he was one of the standout performers for us last season in the Super Rugby competition. He is one of our core group of players that are still part of our setup. He has been a natural choice for me to take up that role as captain.”

Willemse joined the Southern Kings for the 2017 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 1.85-metre, 104 kg 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’ 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.

Davids is looking forward to seeing his squad gel and grow together from their first tour of the Guinness PRO14.

“There are always positives when you go on tour so early – you get to spend some time with the players individually, and the players also get to know each other better. So there will be a lot of benefits from this tour,” the head coach said.

“When we come back we will have 27 players who will have a good understanding of where we are and where we need to go. Players that are staying behind will have time to work on aspects of their game – whether it is conditioning or skills. When we get back we will suddenly have a larger pool of players we can work with.”

The touring squad will leave South Africa on Tuesday afternoon for Wales, where they will face the Scarlets on Saturday, September 2, at Parc y Scarlets.

Davids will name the Southern Kings match-day squad for the opening match on Thursday.

Southern Kings Guinness PRO14 touring squad for Wales and Ireland

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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