The inclusion of several Bulls players and Cape Town club player Lungelo Payi are the main features of the Southern Kings team that will tackle the British and Irish Lions next Tuesday, June 16.
The extended 25-man squad was announced by selection chief Francois Davids on Sunday, to tackle the touring Lions on Youth Day – a game that will coincide with the launch of South Africa’s newest franchise.
Davids, in speaking to rugby365, revealed that the Bulls contingent will be spearheaded by hooker Derick Küun, who was one of the stars in his team’s record 61-17 triumph over the Chiefs in the Super 14 Final just over a week ago.
Fullback Tiger Mangweni, back-up scrumhalf Francois Hougaard, as well as props Ruan Vermeulen and Jaco Engels are other Bulls named in the starting XV.
Other players with Bulls connections – player who first made their mark for the Pretoria-based outfit but now playing elsewhere – are centre Frikkie Welsh (France), flyhalf Jaco van der Westhuyzen (Japan) and lock Marco Wentzel (England).
The Kings’ squad includes five internationals in centre De Wet Barry, flyhalf Jaco van der Westhuyzen, flank Solly Tyibilika, lock Marco Wentzel and replacement fullback Bevin Fortuin.
There are also six Sevens Springboks – Wylie Human, Rayno Benjamin, Mpo Mbiyoso, Josh Fowles, Mzandile Stick and Elger Watts.
However, it is the inclusion of Payi, a member of the False Bay club in Cape Town, that may raise some eyebrows.
The 28-year-old Payi, while not a household name, has played 35 provincial games since he made his debut for Western Province in 2006.
The lanky lock moved to the Border Bulldogs in 2007 and to the Falcons in 2008, before returning to Cape Town this year.
He has been one of False Bay’s standout performers in the club’s unbeaten run in the Super League B (second division) competition and the burning question will be if he can make the step up to ‘international’ level.
With former Stormers lock, and now with French outfit Toulon, Ross Skeate and Wentzel in the starting XV, Payi will be hoping for some second-half game time against the most famous of all touring teams.
Missing from the team sheet is a number of the international names bandied about since last week – players like former Grey High School and England utility back Michael Catt, Bok scrumhalf Neil de Kock (Saracens), Bok prop Daan Human (Toulouse), Bok hooker Hanyani Shimange (Western Province) and Bok prop BJ Botha (Ulster).
Although the captain for the team won’t be named till later this week, Border Bulldogs and forgotten Bok flank Solly Tyibilika is the front runner to lead the Kings out against the Lions.
Southern Kings: 15 Tiger Mangweni, 14 Wylie Human, 13 Frikkie Welsh, 12 De Wet Barry, 11 Rayno Benjamin, 10 Jaco van der Westhuyzen, 9 Francois Hougaard, 8 Darron Nel 7 Solly Tyibilika, 6 Mpo Mbiyoso, 5 Ross Skeate, 4 Marco Wentzel, 3 Ruan Vermeulen, 2 Derrick Küun, 1 Jaco Engels.
Replacements – from: Simon Westraadt, Kevin Buys, Lungelo Payi, Heinrich Stride, Josh Fowles, Mzandile Stick, Elger Watts, Bevin Fortuin, Henry Grimes, Michael Coetzee.
Date: Tuesday, June 16
Venue: Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium