Luke Watson is expected to lead the EP Kings out when they start their challenge for honours in the Vodacom Cup against the Kenyan Tusker Simba XV at Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium on March 21.
After missing several matches last year because of a bad concussion, Watson has been named in a 38-man Kings Vodacom Cup squad.
The Kings have said they are going to field strong teams in the Vodacom Cup this season and have set their sights on winning the tournament.
Kings fans will be hoping that the return of the experienced Watson will rejuvenate the Kings who fared dismally in the Vodacom Cup and Currie Cup Premier Division last season.
Notable new additions in the squad are Cornell Hess and Dylan Frylinck, who have both secured contracts for the Vodacom Cup season following trials earlier this month.
Other new faces are Vukile Sofisa and Sphu Msuthwana, who move up from last year’s under-21 squad, and C J Velleman, who captained the U19 squad last year.
Also named in the squad, are new signings Tazz Fuzani, Jan Uys, Eital Bredenkamp and Tony Jantjies.
Injured players who are not expected to be available for the Vodacom Cup competition include Darron Nell (neck), Charl du Plessis (neck), Dwayne Jenner (leg) and Samora Fihlani (knee).
Vodacom Cup head coach Mzwandile Stick said he was happy with the condition of the players, saying they had worked hard during the off-season and in pre-season training.
“We have a great group of players, with a good combination of both senior and young up-and-coming talent,” he said.
Stick said the focus was now on introducing more rugby-specific elements to the training sessions, and developing the game plan for the campaign.
“We will also be working hard to maintain the fitness of the players and getting their skills level up ahead of the competition,” he said.
Stick said he was confident ahead of the Vodacom Cup, but would be taking the competition one game at a time.
“We have the best possible players to select from, including all those who played Currie Cup Premier Division last year, so we are very confident going into this competition, we want to win it,” he said.
“We want to build on last year and get the players’ confidence up ahead of the Currie Cup season this year.”
The squad is: Forwards: Charles Marais, Vukile Sofisa, Lizo Gqoboka, Michael van Vuuren, Martin Ferreira, Edgar Marutlulle, Simon Kerrod, Tom Botha, CJ van der Linde, David Bulbring, Cornell Hess, Cameron Lindsay, Tazz Fuzani, Jan Uys, Shaun McDonald, Eital Bredenkamp, CJ Velleman, Thembelani Bholi, Paul Schoeman, Stefan Willemse, Tim Agaba, Aidon Davis, Luke Watson.
Backs: Kevin Luiters, Dylan Frylinck, Jaco Grobler, Gary van Aswegen, Tony Jantjies, George Whitehead, Siyanda Grey, Marlou van Niekerk, Sphu Msuthwana, Shane Gates, Tim Whitehead, Ronnie Cooke, Siviwe Soyizwapi, Scott van Breda, Hansie Graaff.