Southern Kings ring the changes
The Southern Kings have rung the changes for their final Super Rugby round-robin match of the season against the Sharks in Durban on Saturday as they strive to keep their players fresh for the promotion-relegation matches against the Lions.
Only three players who started against the Stormers have retained their places for the clash in Durban, the Kings' last chance to win a South African derby.
In the absence of injured centre Andries Strauss, robust lock Steven Sykes takes over the captaincy, while long-serving Kings flank Mpho Mbiyozo has been handed a debut and says he is determined to grab his chance with both hands.
"This has come as surprise," Mbiyozo, a former South African Sevens star, said.
"I got back from playing for the EP Kings in Welkom and Solly (Alan Solomons) called me into his office on Monday and told me I would be playing. Prior to that I had no idea what his plans were."
The other players who have been selected for their first Super Rugby match are Baby Bok Aidon Davis and Thabo Majomela, who will both start on the bench.
"There are a number of changes and we have players who are carrying injuries, but there is nobody we are concerned about that will not be able to make it through to the promotion/relegation matches. But obviously they are not right for the weekend," Kings director of rugby Alan Solomons said.
"It is great to see guys coming through from our academy. We have got Siviwe Soyizwapi, Shane Gates and Aidon Davis who are all in the squad."
Regular Kings centres Andries Strauss and Ronnie Cooke are both carrying injuries which has resulted in a new pairing of Waylon Murray and Shane Gates being chosen to play in Durban.
"This is a great chance for Shane to get game time," Solomons said.
"Shane has been on the bench because you always have to have a reserve in case of injury. For Waylon it is fantastic opportunity. Waylon was born and bred in Durban and he played for the Sharks at the start of his career."
Southern Kings team: Siviwe Soyizwapi, Marcello Sampson, Waylon Murray, Shane Gates, Hadleigh Parkes, George Whitehead, Nicolas Vergallo, Charl du Plessis, Hannes Franklin, Kevin Buys, Devin Oosthuizen, Steven Sykes (capt), David Bulbring, Mpho Mbiyozo, Jacques Engelbrecht.
Replacements: Grant Kemp, Bandise Maku, Darron Nell, Thabo Mamojele, Aidon Davis, Shaun Venter, Michael Killian.