A daunting trip to play in-form Edinburgh, followed by back-to-back PRO14 derby matches against the Cheetahs, are the three huge challenges facing the Southern Kings during January.
It will be a crucial four weeks for the Kings, who have slumped to 10 consecutive defeats and are the worst performing team in the competition.
After losing 48-21 to Edinburgh in Port Elizabeth earlier this month, the Kings know that the odds will be stacked against them when they travel to an icy Myreside Stadium on January 5.
“It will be a challenging and hectic schedule, taking into account the travel,” Kings head coach Deon Davids said.
“We will be training here in the heat and we will face below-zero temperatures when we get off the plane in Scotland.”
The Edinburgh side, packed with Scottish internationals, turned up the heat in the final stages with a flurry of late tries and the stamina of the Kings will face another gruelling test.
On January 13, the Kings return to Port Elizabeth for the first of three derby matches against a Cheetahs side who have made an impressive start to their campaign.
Unlike the Kings, who have yet to register a win after 10 games, the Cheetahs are lying third on the Conference A standings thanks to six impressive victories.
The Free Staters, who like the Kings exited Super Rugby earlier this year, have scored 37 tries and are challenging for a berth in the playoffs.
After the clash at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium, the Kings travel to Bloemfontein on January 20 for the second of three derbies against the Free Staters.
The third meeting, which is also the final game of the season, is scheduled for the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium on April 28.
Due to small crowds in Port Elizabeth, and in a bid to test the water further afield, it has been decided to move their home game against Ulster on April 7 to the Outeniqua Park Stadium in George.
This was the venue for the World Rugby Sevens Series and is home to the SWD Eagles, who compete in the Currie Cup. There is also the possibility that a PRO14 match will be played in East London.
A spokesman for the Southern Kings said: “We trust that our supporters will embrace this exciting development and make the journey with us to the beautiful Garden Route.”
The Kings’ remaining fixtures: January 5: Edinburgh (away), Jan 13: Cheetahs (home), Jan 20: Cheetahs (away), February 9: Ulster (away), Feb 16: Ospreys (away), Feb 23: Leinster (away), March 2: Newport Gwent Dragons (home), March 24: Benetton Treviso (home), April 7: Munster (home in George), April 14: Cardiff Blues (home), April 28: Cheetahs (home).