After a lengthy layoff through a foot injury, Luke Watson returns to lead the EP Kings against the Bulls in a friendly in Port Elizabeth on Friday.
The 30-year-old loose forward was named by coach Carlos Spencer as captain of the team and will lead the side from the back of the scrum.
Watson has been out of rugby since Super Rugby competition last year, having been hampered by a broken foot bone.
“The injury was actually initially misdiagnosed and I played a few games last year with a broken bone,” Watson said on Tuesday.
“So the recovery has been a long process but I am really excited to be back and looking forward to helping the EP Kings.
“We know we have a long way to go and are far from the finished article, but we are enjoying Carlos’ input and being allowed a bit of freedom in the way we play the game.”
Spencer made several changes from the team which faced Wales last week and said the matches were a chance to “have a look at all the players”.
After playing the Bulls on Friday, the Kings will host the Sharks on July 4 before turning their attention to the Currie Cup, starting in August.
“We are just taking it a game at a time and making sure everyone gets some game time,” Spencer said.
“There were quite a few things we needed to work on after the Wales game such as missed tackles, ball retention and better cleaning out, and we have focused on those things for the last week.”
Veteran lock Darron Nell will spend some time on the bench as Spencer ran the rule over Steven Cummins and Cameron Lindsay on Friday, while former Sharks player, Tim Whitehead would make his first appearance for the Kings at outside centre.
Whitehead was considered superfluous to the Sharks’ requirements this season and will be keen to make an early impression on Friday, partnering Dwayne Jenner in the midfield.
Scrumhalf Jaco Grobler gets a chance to start, with Kevin Luiters on the bench, while Scott van Breda, who played wing against Wales was moved to fullback.
EP Kings: 15 Scott van Breda, 14 Siviwe Soyizwapi, 13 Tim Whitehead, 12 Dwayne Jenner, 11 Ntabeni Dukisa, 10 George Whitehead, 9 Jaco Grobler, 8 Luke Watson (captain), 7 Paul Schoeman, 6 Thembelani Bholi, 5 Cameron Lindsay, 4 Steven Cummins, 3 Simon Kerrod, 2 Edgar Marutlulle, 1BG Uys.
Replacements: 16 Dane van der Westhuizen, 17 Brenden Olivier, 18 Tom Botha, 19 Darron Nell, 20 Devin Oosthuizen, 21 Kevin Luiters, 22 Shane Gates, 23 Hansie Graaff.
Date: Friday, June 20
Venue: Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium, Port Elizabeth
Kick-off: 19.00 (17.00 GMT)
Referee: Rasta Rasivhenge
Assistant referees: Local