Isuzu Southern Kings flyhalf Siyabonga Masuku will earn his first starting berth when the Port Elizabeth-based side takes on Connacht Rugby in a Guinness PRO14 Round 13 match at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium on Sunday, March 1.

The 23-year-old, who has made three appearances from the bench so far this season, replaces Demetri Catrakilis, who has sustained an ankle injury, in the No10 jersey.

Backing Masuku from the bench is 18-year-old understudy, Tiaan Botes, who will make his first senior rugby appearance on Sunday.

Botes, a former Helpmekaar High School First XV star, was one of the sought-after young schoolboy talents until he completed his schooling last year.

“It’s great to see Siya Masuku getting an opportunity following the injury to Demetri Catrakilis. He has been working hard and deserves his opportunity,” said Isuzu Southern Kings interim Head Coach, Robbi Kempson.

“I’m very excited for Tiaan Botes. I think he has come a long way and is a highly talented individual. He had a run in one of our practice matches against Nelson Mandela University, and he showed that he is an exciting prospect and deserves his opportunity as well.”

Nippy fullback, Masixole Banda, who missed out on the recent tour of Ireland and Wales due to personal reasons, has also made a return to the starting XV where he will take the place of Courtney Winnaar, who has also sustained an ankle injury.

In the forwards pack, Thembelani Bholi will also be rewarded with a starting berth at blindside flank, where he rotates with Ruaan Lerm, who will be on the bench.

Hooker, Alandre van Rooyen will also return to the starting XV where he will don the No2 jersey in place of the injured Jacques du Toit.

An exciting bench will also feature another debutant in backup hooker, Robin Stevens, as well as the return of winger Josiah Twum-Boafo and scrumhalf Theo Maree.

The team is pleased to be back at home in Port Elizabeth. The side has been working hard this week to polish their skills ahead of the clash against the Irish opposition.

“It’s always great playing at home at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium,” said Kempson.

“We’ve mostly been working on freshening the lads up from the fatigue from the travel. Unfortunately, it is a long way back from Wales and we came back late in the week – as is the case for Connacht as well. So that levels the playing fields. So we just need to ensure that we can put the game plan that we have for Connacht out on the field on Sunday.

“Connacht is always a tough opposition. They offer a variety of options, particularly on attack. They are very dangerous and have an exceptional forwards pack. They are strong in that department – they have a good lineout and a steady scrum – so we will be expecting quite a tough tussle out there.”

The Isuzu Southern Kings team to face Connacht Rugby is:

Schalk Ferreira, Alandre van Rooyen, Rossouw de Klerk, Jerry Sexton, John-Charles Astle (C), Lusanda Badiyana, Thembelani Bholi, Elrigh Louw.

BACKLINE (9-15):
Stefan Ungerer, Siyabonga Masuku, Erich Cronje, Howard Mnisi, Sibusiso Sithole, Christopher Hollis, Masixole Banda.

Robin Stevens, Xandre Vos, Pieter Scholtz, Bobby de Wee, Ruaan Lerm, Theo Maree, Tiaan Botes, Josiah Twum-Boafo.