Southern Kings head coach, Deon Davids, named a strong side on Thursday that will take on the Scarlets in the opening match of the Guinness PRO14 Championship.

The Southern Kings will face the defending Guinness PRO14 champions at Parc y Scarlets in Llanelli on Saturday when they play in their first match of the 2017/18 season.

Davids will field an experienced team which includes players who have plied their trade in the Guinness PRO14 previously as well as the Vodacom Super Rugby competition. The side will be led by captain, Michael Willemse.

“We have some exciting players in the backline and we also have some talent in the forwards. I would like to see a good balance between the backs and forwards,” Davids said.

“I will encourage the guys to play the way we are used to playing – that is playing towards where our pace is, making good decisions and recognising and using areas of space.

“We also need to be wary of the fact that games are not only won with ball in hand, our biggest challenge will be our work rate, intensity and physicality without the ball. That will be a big ask for us.”

The Southern Kings are wary of the tough task of facing the defending champions in their first Guinness PRO14 outing, and have braced themselves for a full 80-minute battle against the Welsh club.

“We had to have a look at them – they are the champion side. They have strength all over in their team and are a team that likes to play with ball in hand. They are quite dangerous if you concede turnovers against them, and they have quite a good set piece. It will be an 80-minute battle,” said the head coach.

“We are in this now, and we are excited to go and see where we are, and what still needs to be done. We are going into this game confident in our abilities. We will see this as a good learning exercise and a good base of where we can start and continue our campaign going forward.

“It would be stupid to underestimate a team that remains the reigning champions of the competition.

“We need to be spot on, we need to be focused and we need to be switched on. We need to be ready to face whatever comes our way. We need not be afraid to impose ourselves in terms of what we need to do. We will focus on playing the way that we want to play and trying to be clever in terms of our approach.”

The match will be played at Parc y Scarlets, kicking off at 17h30 (18h30 SA-time) on Saturday.

The Southern Kings team is:

Starting XV: 1. Schalk Ferreira, 2. Michael Willemse (capt), 3. Rossouw de Klerk, 4. Jurie van Vuuren, 5. Dries van Schalkwyk, 6. Khaya Majola, 7. Victor Sekekete, 8. Andisa Ntsila; 9. Rudi van Rooyen, 10. Kurt Coleman, 11. Sibusiso Sithole, 12. Luzuko Vulindlu, 13. Berton Klaasen, 14. Yaw Penxe, 15. Masixole Banda.

REPLACEMENTS: 16. Stephan Coetzee, 17. Luvuyo Pupuma, 18. Entienne Swanepoel, 19. Bobby de Wee; 20. Siyabulela Mdaka; 21. Godlen Masimla, 22. Ntabeni Dukisa, 23. Jacques Nel.