The Southern Kings return to Guinness PRO14 action following their Christmas break with a tough assignment away to Edinburgh at Myreside.
The Kings’ last game was against Friday’s opponents as they went down 48-21 at Nelson Mandela Bay with the Scottish side playing Glasgow Warriors back-to-back in the meantime.
What’s at stake? The Kings are yet to record a win in the Guinness PRO14 but there is no better time than a New Year for a change in fortunes.
A victory would help the Kings close the ten-point gap to the Dragons.
Edinburgh meanwhile are eight points behind third-placed Ulster and need success to reduce that deficit as well as move them further clear of Benetton in Conference B.
Team news (Southern Kings): Schalk Ferreira will lead the Kings in Scotland with Yaw Penxe, Kurt Coleman, Berton Klaasen and Dries van Schalkwyk all included.
Adisa Ntsila, who has made 132 tackles this season, hasn’t made the trip but is expected to return for the Kings’ back-to-back derbies with the Toyota Cheetahs.
A late decision will be made as to whether Gouws Rowan or Godlen Masimla is included amongst the replacements for the South Africans.
Team news (Edinburgh): Scotland international Mark Bennett is set to make his long-awaited debut in an Edinburgh shirt as one of five changes made by Richard Cockerill.
The centre, who joined from Glasgow Warriors in the summer, has recovered from a long-term knee injury with Dougie Fife, a try-scorer against the Kings in December, named on the wing.
Jordan Lay is selected at loosehead prop with Murray McCallum at tighthead while Magnus Bradbury, Hamish Watson and Cornell du Preez make up the back row.
Richard Cockerill said: “Mark has worked incredibly hard to return from injury, so we’re delighted that he’s able to make his first start for the club in front of our supporters at Myreside.
“Southern Kings are a dangerous side in attack, and they will be well-rested having had a few weeks’ break over the festive period.
“It’ll be a tough game, but we’re looking forward to getting back to Myreside and putting in a good performance, and one that keeps us looking up the table.”
Head coach Deon Davids said: “Overall this has been a difficult touring squad to put together and I’ve had much to consider.
“Firstly, we’ve had to take into account the players’ workload prior to this break and consider the impact that the tough travelling schedule we have coming up could have on their recovery.
“We have also been hit by some unforeseen injuries. In light of the said, we decided it would be a good opportunity to assess the depth and talent within the squad.”
Key battle: Cornell du Preez v Ruann Lerm
Cornell du Preez is fast approaching 100 appearances for Edinburgh and will need all that experience when he takes on Ruann Lerm.
The Scotland international was born in South African and will be keen to demonstrate his abilities ahead of the Six Nations selection.
Key stat: Edinburgh Rugby’s four-game winning run in all competitions ended with their 17-0 defeat to Glasgow Warriors at Scotstoun on 30 December.
Did you know? The Scots’ only defeat at home this season was when Benetton were the visitors in Round 3 of the Guinness PRO14.
Edinburgh: Blair Kinghorn, Dougie Fife, Mark Bennett, Phil Burleigh, Duhan van der Merwe, Jaco van der Walt, Nathan Fowles, Jordan Lay, Stuart McInally, Murray McCallum, Ben Toolis, Grant Gilchrist, Magnus Bradbury, Hamish Watson, Cornell du Preez
Replacements: Cameron Fenton, Elliot Millar-Mills, Matt Shields, Fraser McKenzie, Viliame Mata, Sean Kennedy, Chris Dean, Damien Hoyland
Southern Kings: Ntabeni Dukisa, Yaw Penxe, Berton Klaasen, Martin du Toit, Alshaun Bock, Kurt Coleman, Rudi van Rooyen, Schalk Ferreira (capt), Stephan Coetzee, Rossouw de Klerk, Jurie van Vuuren, Dries van Schalkwyk, Bredenkamp Eitel, Martinus Burger, Ruaan Lerm.
Replacements: Tango Balekile, Njabulo Gumede, Pieter Scholtz, Lindokuhle Welemu, Freddy Ngoza, Gouws Rowan/Godlen Masimla, Harlon Klaasen, Masixole Banda.
Match officials – Referee: Lloyd Linton (SRU), AR1: Mike Adamson (SRU), AR2: Sam Grove-White (SRU), TMO: Neil Paterson (SRU)
TV: BBC ALBA: 19:25, SuperSport 1: 21:30 (SA)