The Southern Kings have made two changes to their starting line up for the game against the Crusaders in Christchurch on Saturday.
Head coach Deon Davids has replaced Edgar Marutlulle at hooker with Martin Ferreira, while Kevin Luiters comes up from the bench to start in place of Ntando Kebe.
“Edgar put in a sterling performance against the Chiefs last week and the move is in no way an enditement on his performance,” he said.
Davids said Luiters had been given the chance to start, having played off the bench last week after returning from injury.
“Ntando has started for us in two games now, so its more of a rotational move, with Kevin also bringing a bit of experience to the field,” he said.
Aside from Marutlulle and Kebe, JP du Plessis also comes onto the bench in place of JAco van Tonder, who did not join the team on tour.
Davids said he was expecting a tough match on Saturday.
“The Crusaders are a well balanced team and we are expecting this match to be an exceptional challenge for us as a team,” he said.
Davids said the team was focused on improving on their performance game by game.
“We have only had one pracice session so far this week, due to the long trip, so we have tried to cover some of the issues we identified from the last game.
“We have also spoken a lot about concentration, specifically in the ten minutes before and after half time,” he said.
Captain Steven Sykes said the players were settling in well after their long journey to New Zealand and had had a productive training session on Thursday.
“This was our first training session since we arrived and was very productive, with a lot of positives that we can hopefully take into the match with us,” he said.
Sykes said the team was expecting a tough game against the Crusaders.
“I told the team that this is probably going to be the toughest game of the competition. The Crusaders are a great team, In all my years playing, I have never played against a weak Crusaders team,” he said.
Sykes said the forwards were confident in their set piece, having held their own in the first two games of the season.
“I think the guys are ready for the match, we just need to focus on cutting out some of the soft moments in the game and making less errors,” he said.
The Kings team is: 15. Jurgen Visser, 14. Luzuko Vulindlu, 13. Stefan Watermeyer, 12. Shane Gates (Vice Captain), 11. Malcolm Jaer, 10. Louis Fouche, 09. Kevin Luiters, 08. Jacques Engelbrecht, 07. Thembelani Bholi, 06. Chris Cloete, 05. JC Astle, 04. Steven Sykes (Captain), 03. Jacobie Adriaanse, 02. Martin Ferreira, 01. Schalk Ferreira
Reserves: 16. Edgar Marutlulle, 17. Sti Sithole, 18. Tom Botha, 19. Schalk Oelofse, 20. CJ Velleman, 21. Ntando Kebe, 22. Elgar Watts, 23. JP Du Plessis
Crusaders Team: 15. Marty McKenzie, 14. Johnny McNicholl, 13. Kieron Fonotia, 12. David Havili, 11. Nemani Nadolo, 10. Richie Mo’unga, 9. Mitchell Drummond, 8. Jimmy Tupou, 7. Matt Todd, 6. Jordan Taufua, 5. Sam Whitelock (Captain), 4. Luke Romano, 3. Owen Franks, 2. Ben Funnell, 1. Wyatt Crockett
Reserves: 16. Ged Robinson, 17. Alex Hodgman, 18. Mike Alaalatoa, 19. Tim Boys, 20. Pete Samu, 21. Leon Fukofuka, 22. Ryan Crotty, 23. Jone Macilai
Crusaders coach Todd Blackadder made several changes to his starting team. The Crusaders mentor has rested All Blacks captain-in-waiting Kieran Read and fellow internationals Joe Moody, Codie Taylor and Andy Ellis ahead of the road trip to South Africa.
Prop Wyatt Crockett and hooker Ben Funnell will start at No 1 and 2 for the first time this season, having come off the bench in the previous two games.
Playing their first game of the season will be lock Luke Romano, loose forward Matt Todd, scrumhalf Mitchell Drummond and fullback Marty McKenzie.
David Havili steps into the inside centre position this week instead of fullback, while Kieron Fonotia shifts out to outside centre. Johnny McNicholl and Nemani Nadolo start on the wings.
Hooker Ged Robinson may earn his first Crusaders cap if he comes off the bench on Saturday, and All Black centre Ryan Crotty is also looking for his first run of 2016 after recovering from his thumb injury to take a spot among the substitutes.
The game will be aired on Supersport 1 at 8.35am South African Time.