Desperate to end a 10-match losing streak, Southern Kings head coach Deon Davids is hoping new blood and eager fresh legs trigger a PRO14 revival against Edinburgh in Scotland on Friday.
Among the absentees in the touring party is fiery loose forward Andisa Ntsila, who has been ruled out after sustaining a concussion during training.
This is a heavy blow for the Kings, who will miss the hard-working Ntsila as they bid to start the new year on a high note.
Ntsila will also miss the clash against the Cheetahs at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium in Port Elizabeth on Saturday next week.
The Kings regrouped last week after a three-week mid-season break.
A 25-man Kings touring squad flew to Scotland yesterday for what promises to be one of their toughest games of the season.
Davids said the decision to leave locks Stefan Greeff and Bobby de Wee out of the squad had been taken to manage their workload.
“Those two have been grafting extremely hard in our previous encounters and will return for the Cheetahs game,” Davids said.
“We have chosen Jurie van Vuuren and Lindokuhle Welemu to replace them and they will be determined to prove themselves.
“There’s also an opportunity for Eital Bredenkamp and Freddie Ngoza, neither of whom have played in the first half of the season, to step up as loose-forwards in the place of injured players.”
Davids said Mzamo Majola, on loan from the Sharks, had been required to return to his home franchise and had been replaced by Njabulo Gumede.
Recent Lions signing Anthony Volmink was not considered for the Edinburgh encounter due to family commitments.
“Overall, this has been a difficult touring squad to put together and I’ve had much to consider.
“First, we’ve had to take into account the players’ workload prior to this break and consider the impact that the tough travelling schedule we have coming up could have on their recovery.
“We have also been hit by some unforeseen injuries.
“In light of that, we decided it would be a good opportunity to assess the depth and talent within the squad by giving other players an opportunity on this one- week tour while at the same time not discarding too much continuity,” Davids said.
The Kings will name their matchday lineup tomorrow and experienced prop Schalk Ferreira is expected to captain the side.
When the teams met at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium last month, the Kings went down 48-21 after three late tries allowed the Scottish outfit to surge out of sight.
There was some good news for the Kings on the injury front.
Hooker Michael Willemse, who captained the Kings at the start of the season, is making good progress from a long-term injury and is expected to be eligible for the Cheetahs match.
Ferreira took over as captain from Willemse, who has been recovering from a tear in his groin muscle.
Willemse last played for the Kings against Glasgow at the end of October.
Edinburgh will be looking to bounce back after suffering a 17-0 defeat against Glasgow in their last game.
The Kings squad: Forwards: Schalk Ferreira, Pieter Scholtz, Martin Dreyer, Njabulo Gumede, Rossouw de Klerk, Tango Balekile, Stephan Coetzee, Lindokuhle Welemu, Dries van Schalkwyk, Jurie van Vuuren, Martinus Burger, Eital Bredenkamp, Freddie Ngoza, Ruaan Lerm. Backs: Rudi van Rooyen, Godlen Masimla, Rowan Gouws, Kurt Coleman, Berton Klaasen, Harlon Klaasen, Martin du Toit, Alshaun Bock, Yaw Penxe, Masixole Banda, Ntabeni Dukisa.