Isuzu Southern Kings’ elusive fullback, Masixole Banda, will earn his 50th cap for the franchise when the side takes on the Toyota Cheetahs in a Guinness PRO14 Round 8 clash at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium on Saturday, January 25.
The 31-year-old hot-stepper has amassed his caps in both the Guinness PRO14 championship and Super Rugby, making him one of the stalwarts of the Port Elizabeth-based side.
The diminutive player, who has shown his versatility at both fullback and flyhalf, will run on in the No15 jersey this weekend in front of his hometown crowd.
“I’m really excited to have reached this milestone,” a jubilant Banda said on Friday.
“It has not been easy reaching 50 games which is not a feat that many players are able to reach. I’m proud of the road that I have travelled in my career to reach this stage.
“It is extra special for me because it can be something that can motivate other kids who come from our townships like I do. I’m grateful for the opportunities I have received to reach this point.
“I hope that I can contribute towards the team’s cause and aim of leaving the field with a win on Saturday. The Isuzu Southern Kings is a team that is close to my heart and I always give it my all for my teammates, the coaches and the fans. It will be no different when I play my 50th match.”
Scrumhalf, Stefan Ungerer, will lead the team as captain when they the Cheetahs.
He takes over the leadership role from Howard Mnisi who is nursing a biceps injury.
Flyhalf Bader Pretorius will earn his first starting berth for the season as JT Jackson shifts to inside centre, where he will partner with the experienced Sibusiso Sithole.
On the bench, Lusanda Badiyana will also make a return to the team.
The match will kickoff at 15h30.
The Isuzu Southern Kings team to face the Cheetahs is:
Schalk Ferreira, Jacques du Toit, Rossouw de Klerk, Jerry Sexton, Aston Fortuin, Ruaan Lerm, Thembelani Bholi, Elrigh Louw.
Backline (9-15): Stefan Ungerer (C), Bader Pretorius, Erich Cronje, John-Thomas Jackson, Sibusiso Sithole, Yaw Penxe, Masixole Banda.
Replacements (16-23): Alandre van Rooyen, Xandre Vos, Ignatius Prinsloo, Bobby de Wee, Lusanda Badiyana, Theo Maree, Courtney Winnaar, Andell Loubser.