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Kings full-back Masixole Banda will earn his 50th cap for the franchise in the round eight fixture. The 31-year-old hot-stepper has amassed his caps in both the Guinness PRO14 championship and Super Rugby, making him one of the stalwarts of the Port Elizabeth-based side.
The diminutive player, who has shown his versatility at both full-back and fly-half, will run on in the No15 jersey on Saturday in front of his hometown crowd.
“I’m really excited to have reached this milestone,” a jubilant Banda said, hoping Kings can fare better than they did when trounced by Edinburgh in their last outing.
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Pieter-Steph du Toit fronts up to the media in South Africa
“It has not been easy reaching 50 games which is not a feat that many players are able to reach. I’m proud of the road that I have travelled in my career to reach this stage.
“It is extra special for me because it can be something that can motivate other kids who come from our townships like I do. I’m grateful for the opportunities I have received to reach this point.
“I hope that I can contribute towards the team’s cause and aim of leaving the field with a win. The Kings is a team that is close to my heart and I always give it my all for my team-mates, the coaches and the fans. It will be no different when I play my 50th match.”
The Cheetahs, meanwhile, return to near full-strength for the South African derby following their recent hammering at Zebre.
Coach Hawies Fourie has selected a new wing pairing, brought back hooker Joseph Dweba and No8 Gerhard Olivier as he strengthens the side for a must-win encounter if the Cheetahs are to keep up their quest to make the playoffs.
“It doesn’t matter if you performed badly in the previous game. Each week is going to be a challenge and you can’t take any game for granted,” said captain Tian Meyer.
“We have trained hard these last two weeks and we tried to rectify our mistakes. Mentally we’ve made a step-up and we’ll try our best to put out a better performance.”
SOUTHERN KINGS: 15. Masixole Banda; 14. Yaw Penxe, 13. Sibusiso Sithole, 12. John-Thomas Jackson, 11. Erich Cronje; 10. Bader Pretorius, 9. Stefan Ungerer; 1. Schalk Ferreira, 2. Jacques du Toit, 3. Rossouw de Klerk, 4. Jerry Sexton, 5. Aston Fortuin, 6. Ruaan Lerm, 7. Thembelani Bholi, 8. Elrigh Louw. Reps: 16. Alandre van Rooyen, 17. Xandre Vos, 18. Ignatius Prinsloo, 19. Bobby de Wee, 20. Lusanda Badiyana, 21. Theo Maree, 22. Courtney Winnaar, 23. Andell Loubser.
CHEETAHS: 15. Rhyno Smith; 14. Clayton Blommetjies, 13. William Small-Smith, 12. Benhard Janse van Rensburg, 11. Anthony Volmink; 10. Tian Schoeman, 9. Tian Meyer (capt); 1. Boan Venter, 2. Joseph Dweba, 3. Aranos Coetzee, 4. Sintu Manjezi, 5. Walt Steenkamp, 6. Chris Massyn, 7. Junior Pokomela, 8. Gerhard Olivier. Reps: 16. Wilmar Arnoldi, 17. Erich de Jager, 18. Luan de Bruin, 19. JP du Preez, 20. Aidon Davis, 21. Ruan Pienaar, 22. George Whitehead, 23. Chris Smit.
WATCH: Welsh legend Jamie Roberts fronts up to the media after his arrival at the Stormers
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