Isuzu Southern Kings’ JC Astle will lead an exciting side with a blend of youth and experience in the Guinness PRO14 season-opening match against Cardiff Blues on Saturday, September 28, at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium.
The 29-year-old Astle, who captained the team last season, has once again been appointed season captain for the 2019/20 season, Isuzu Southern Kings interim Head Coach, Robbi Kempson, confirmed.
“JC Astle will captain the side for the season, as he did last season,” said Kempson.
“He also has a strong leadership group, which includes the vice-captain for this game – Stefan Ungerer. We are privileged to have a number of leaders in this group of players.”
The Isuzu Southern Kings will have six PRO14 Rugby debutants in their starting line-up that will face the Welsh opposition.
New recruits lock Jerry Sexton, centres JT Jackson and Howard Mnisi, winger Christopher Hollis and fullback Andell Loubser will make their first official appearances for the Port Elizabeth-based side while Demetri Catrakilis will add to the number for a first appearance in the Guinness PRO14.
On the bench lock Aston Fortuin, utility forward Elrigh Louw and Josh Allderman will also be making their tournament debuts, with Jacques du Toit who switched allegiance from the Cheetahs earning his first cap for the Isuzu Southern Kings.
The newbies will have the comfort of experience in Astle, Bobby de Wee and Yaw Penxe, among others, against a Blues side that Kempson believes will be relying on their experience on their tour of South Africa.
“Cardiff Blues have a very experienced pack and have a lot of old heads in their backline as well. They have an exceptionally good coach in John Mulvihill. It will be a good test, particularly for our young players who will get their first opportunity in the Guinness PRO14,” said Kempson.
“A good start is quite important for us, but I think what is more important is the manner in which we play.
“We have seen some progression after an incredibly tough tour of Georgia and Namibia. The results were not entirely important. The fact that we were out of our comfort zone, also we were playing against World Cup opposition and testing certain combinations was important.”
The Isuzu Southern Kings team is:
Alulutho Tshakweni, Alandre Van Rooyen, Pieter Scholtz, Jerry Sexton, John-Charles Astle (C), Martinus Burger, Arthur de Wee, Lusanda Badiyana.
Stefan Ungerer (V/C), Demetri Catrakilis, Yaw Penxe, John-Thomas Jackson, Howard Mnisi, Christopher Hollis, Andell Loubser.
Jacques Du Toit, Xandre Vos, Rossouw De Klerk, Aston Fortuin, Elrigh Louw, Josh Allderman, Bader Pretorius, Sibusiso Sithole