“Cool and experienced” centre, Howard Mnisi, will lead the Isuzu Southern Kings on Saturday when they take on the Ospreys at Liberty Stadium in Swansea.
Isuzu Southern Kings interim Head Coach, Robbi Kempson, named his match-day squad of 23 on Friday having made a few changes to the team that will see an alteration to the leadership in the last of three matches of the South African side’s first European tour of the 2019/20 Guinness 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 who 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.
The Isuzu Southern Kings are also bracing themselves for an exciting back three which will see young wingers Josiah Twum-Boafo and Christopher Hollis playing alongside loanee, Scott van Breda, at fullback.
The Worcester Warriors utility back replaces the evergreen Masixole Banda, who is receiving some needed rest this week, having played in all of the Isuzu Southern Kings matches 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 Springboks, Elrigh Louw, who has shone each time he has come on from the bench in previous matches for the Isuzu Southern Kings, will earn his first starting berth this weekend at No8, 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 Isuzu 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 No8 in place of Ruaan Lerm,” said the interim head coach.
“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.”
The 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 Isuzu 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 the captain.
“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 the coach.
“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.”
The Isuzu Southern Kings team to take on Ospreys is:
1 Juan Schoeman
2 Jacques du Toit
3 Pieter Scholtz
4 Jerry Sexton
5 Bobby de Wee
6 Martinus Burger (VC)
7 Thembelani Bholi
8 Elrigh Louw
9 Josh Allderman
10 John-Thomas Jackson
11 Josiah Twum-Boafo
12 Howard Mnisi (C)
13 Erich Cronje
14 Christopher Hollis
15 Scott van Breda
16 Alandre van Rooyen
17 Xandre Vos
18 Lupumlo Mguca
19 Aston Fortuin
20 Ruaan Lerm
21 Sarel Pretorius
22 Siyabonga Masuku
23 Sibusiso Sithole