Two of the Southern Kings newest acquisitions from the Border Bulldogs could get the chance to impress immediately after flank Siya Mdaka and flyhalf Oliver Zono were included in the Kings 27-man touring squad which left for Wales on Tuesday afternoon.
The Kings will open their European Pro14 campaign against competition defending champions Scarlets at the Parc y Scarlets Stadium in Llanelli on Saturday, before heading to Ireland where they will come face-to-face with Connacht a week later.
Mdaka and Zono only joined up with the Kings two weeks ago and they could now be in line to feature in this weekend’s matchday squad.
“It has been quite hectic since arriving here just two weeks ago, but with the help of the coaching staff and senior players from Super Rugby, they have really made it easy for us new guys to settle in,” admitted Mdaka.
“This is my first time heading to play overseas, so I am excited and looking forward to the challenge.”
Along with Mdaka and Zono, two other Bulldogs players, Masixole Banda and Ntubeni Dukisa will also be in the mix, with Banda increasingly looking as a shoo-in to start at fullback, after regular Kings fullback Malcom Jaer moved to the Cheetahs. A number of other players who featured for the Kings in Super Rugby, plus a couple of acquisitions with Pro14 experience are also included in the squad.
This includes former Border school stars Sibusiso Sithole, on loan from the Sharks, Andisa Ntsila, Yaw Penxe and Tango Balekile.
Taking on the defending champs will be a massive test for the Kings, however it will give them the best possible indication of where they stand early in the competition.
Despite the challenges and changes the Kings should still be riding the wave of momentum built up during the Super Rugby campaign earlier this year.
“We just want to focus on ourselves at the moment, focus on what we need to do and our own structures, so that will be key,” explained Mdaka.
“They are the defending champions, but we really want to go up there and put in a really good effort and impress in our first outing.”
The Southern Kings take on Scarlets at 6.30pm on Saturday at the Parc y Scarlets Stadium , while the Cheetahs open their Pro14 campaign against Ulster at the Kingspan Stadium in Ulster, Northern Ireland tomorrow night at 8.35pm.