Southern Kings head coach Deon Davids made just one change to his starting XV that returned from Australia on the back of a 26-24 win against the Waratahs last week.

The Southern Kings take on the Melbourne Rebels in a Vodacom Super Rugby match at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium on Saturday (kick-off at 19h30) and will be eager to claim back-to-back vistories while gaining momentum ahead of a bye next week.

In a rotational change, Davids has named Martin Bezuidenhout as the side’s starting hooker while Michael Willemse, who produced a star performance in last weekend’s victory in Sydney, will provide back up on the bench this time around.

Stefaan Willemse will also return to the team on the bench as loose-forward cover following an ankle injury to Ruaan Lerm.

The rest of the Southern Kings squad remains the same as the head coach hopes for consistency from his charges.

“It has been in our plans that for this game we will rotate Martin Bezuidenhout and Michael Willese,” Davids said on Thursday.

“Michael also struggled a bit in the recovery from the last game. It’s also a good thing to manage him well in this game. Ruaan Lerm could not pass a fitness test this morning, so Stefaan Willemse replaces him on the bench.”

Davids indicated that his side was expecting a tough encounter against a Melbourne Rebels side that has shown some good form this season having beaten the Brumbies and played to a 9-9 draw with the Cell C Sharks last weekend. 

“We have been speaking about the Rebels and they are a side we have plenty of respect for,” the head coach said.

“They played well against the Sharks and the Brumbies. We are expecting a very tough and hard match.”

The head coach indicated that the team will be out to play for the Southern Kings supporters, while singing the praises of the manner in which his charges have played with the ball I hand over the past few weeks.

“We believe that we owe our crowd a good performance, and that is our biggest drive this weekend – to come out and play some very good rugby,” said Davids.

“We enjoy playing with the ball in hand, and I am obviously excited at seeing these guys with the ball in hand. I think the way Louis Schreuder and Lionel Cronje are directing the play at this point in time is very good, and creates opportunities.

 “I think with just a bit more better communication and more time with ball in hand, I believe we can strike at any occasion with the pace that we have on the outside. It’s exciting to see the guys starting to gel and getting a better feel for each other after the past three weeks. Hopefully the ball will stick a bit longer in our hands this weekend.”

The Vodacom Super Rugby clash will be preceded by a curtain-raiser between Port Elizabeth clubs, PE Police and PE Harlequins. The exciting club match will kick-off at 16h45. 

The Southern Kings team to take on the Melbourne Rebels is:

15. Masixole Banda

14. Wandile Mjekevu

13. Berton Klaasen

12. Luzuko Vulindlu

11. Makazole Mapimpi

10. Lionel Cronje

9. Louis Schreuder

8. Andisa Ntsila

7. Tyler Paul

6. Chris Cloete

5. Wilhelm van der Sluys

4. Irne Herbst

3. Ross Geldenhuys

2. Martin Bezuidenhout

1. Justin Forwood

REPLACEMENTS: 16. Michael Willemse, 17. Schalk van der Merwe, 18. Dayan van der Westhuizen, 19. Mzwanele Zito, 20. Stefaan Willemse, 21. Johan Steyn, 22. Nicolaas Hanekom, 23. Pieter-Steyn de Wet