Fijian flyer, Meli Rokoua, will get a starting berth for the Isuzu Southern Kings when the team takes on the Toyota Cheetahs in a Guinness PRO14 Round 12 encounter at the Toyota Stadium in Bloemfontein on Saturday.
Isuzu Southern Kings Head Coach Deon Davids named his match-day 23 squad on Friday which travels to the Free State for the second of three South African derbies between the two teams.
Rokoua, who was instrumental in the Isuzu Southern Kings’ fightback and win over Edinburgh Rugby last week when he came on from the bench, will start alongside former Cheetahs player, Tertius Kruger, in the midfield. This will be the Isuzu Southern Kings’ only change to their backline this week.
In the forwards pack, Ruaan Lerm will make a return in the No8 jersey in the place of Andisa Ntsila, who will be expected to make an impact from the bench this week.
Centre Berton Klaasen, who missed out on selection last week due to an eye injury, will be back in the team providing cover from the bench.
The Isuzu Southern Kings will also have a debutant on the bench in this derby.
Pumas stalwart, De-Jay Terblanche joined the Port Elizabeth-based side on a loan agreement this week.
The 33-year-old Knysna-born Terblanche was brought in to bolster the Isuzu Southern Kings front row which has Pieter Scholtz out on a three-match suspension while injuries to Justin Forwood, Rossouw de Klerk and most recently Lupumlo Mguca have left the side ailing in the prop department.
The Isuzu Southern Kings, who showed a great fighting spirit in their previous two matches, are eager to continue producing good performances and a positive result in the hope of turning around the 17-24 defeat to the Cheetahs a fortnight ago.
“We learnt a lot of lessons in that first match against the Cheetahs. Scrums are definitely an area that has been a priority for us,” Davids indicated.
“We know what to expect from the Cheetahs. They have some smart coaches, so we know they will have one or two things up their sleeves. What is important for us is to improve on the fundamentals – particularly the scrums and lineouts.”
After the injury-time defeat to the Cheetahs and last week’s impressive 25-21 win over Edinburgh, the Eastern Cape side has also been focusing on the positive elements they picked up from the recent outings.
“Reflecting on last weekend’s game, the boys put in a tremendous effort. For this week, we need to add to our execution. I felt we had some opportunities which we could have done better in,” the head coach pointed out.
“We have shown that defensively and with ball in hand, we can match any team, but if we don’t get quality ball it becomes difficult – that for us is the priority. We can practise all the other stuff, but if the set pieces are not in good shape, then it will be an uphill battle.”
The Isuzu Southern Kings team to face the Toyota Cheetahs is:
15 Masixole Banda
14 Yaw Penxe
13 Meli Rokoua
12 Tertius Kruger
11 Bjorn Basson
10 Ntabeni Dukisa
9 Stefan Ungerer
1 Schalk Ferreira
2 Michael Willemse
3 Luvuyo Pupuma
4 Andries Van Schalkwyk
5 John-Charles Astle (C)
6 Cyril John Velleman
7 Martinus Burger
8 Ruaan Lerm
16 Alandre Van Rooyen
17 Alulutho Tshakweni
18 De-Jay Terblanche
19 Stephan Greeff
20 Andisa Ntsila
21 Sarel Pretorius
22 Bader Pretorius
23 Berton Klaasen