The Guinness PRO14 start this weekend with much anticipation as the Cheetahs and Kings come into the competition for the first time.
Super Sport also secured selected matches which will include all the matches of the Cheetahs and Kings to be broadcast for South African supporters.
Fourteen teams from South Africa, Ireland, Wales, Scotland and Italy compete in this competition.
From a South African point of view the Cheetahs starts it all for us on Friday night when they take on Ulster in their opener with the Kings that will face Scarlets on Saturday evening.
Both matches will be broadcast on Super Sport with another match being broadcast on Saturday between Connacht Rugby that takes on Glasgow Warriors.
Preview – Ulster Rugby v Toyota Cheetahs
Most people in South Africa do not now much about the PRO14 teams and will quickly learn the strength of this competition when Ulster host the Toyota Cheetahs on Friday night.
Although most of us will not know the competition we will know most of the players playing in the competition with a few South Africans playing their trade in Europe.
Aussie Lealiifano is set to make his debut for Ulster which boost plenty of quality players in their squad for this year.
New signings Jean Deysel and John Cooney will also make their debut for the team as they are set to have a good start to this years championship.
Cooney and Lealiifano will pair up for the first time as halfbacks and their are some excitement around Lealiifano signing to the club.
Stuart McCloskey and Tommy Bowe make up a good midfield combination which will test the Cheetahs defence and the back three of Louis Ludik, Andrew Trimble and Charles Piutau will form an experienced and exciting combination.
The Cheetahs named their side for the historic first match in the PRO14 which will be captained by Niel Jordaan.
“The Cheetahs players are extremely excited to join this world class championship,” Jordaan said after arriving in Belfast on Wednesday.
As we got used to the Cheetahs will go into the game with an attacking mindset and have some exciting players in the starting 15 and on the bench.
The Cheetahs also have some Springboks sevens stars in the team and on the bench which always brings some extra excitement.
The PRO14 is a different competition and game than Super Rugby and they will have to adopt quickly if they want to be a force in the competition.
Bookings have given them good odds this year but we will have to wait and see how they compare to the top teams and Ulster is definitely one of them
Ulster: Kyle McCall, Rob Herring, Wiehahn Herbst, Robbie Diack, Alan O’Connor, Jean Deysel, Chris Henry (captain), Marcell Coetzee, John Cooney, Christian Lealiifano, Louis Ludik, Stuart McCloskey, Tommy Bowe, Andrew Trimble, Charles Piutau.
Replacements: John Andrew, Callum Black, Rodney Ah You, Matthew Rea, Sean Reidy, David Shanahan, Peter Nelson, Darren Cave.
15 Sergeal Petersen, 14 Rosko Specman, 13 William Small-Smith, 12 Ali Mgijima, 11 Makazole Mapimpi, 10 Clayton Blommetjies, 9 Shaun Venter, 8 Niell Jordaan (captain), 7 Henco Venter, 6 Paul Schoeman, 5 Reniel Hugo, 4 Justin Basson, 3 Johan Coetzee, 2 Jacques du Toit, 1 Charles Marais
Replacements:: 16 Torsten van Jaarsveld, 17 Ox Nche, 18 Tom Botha, 19 Rynier Bernardo, 20 Gerhard Olivier, 21 Tian Meyer, 22 Cecil Afrika, 23 Rayno Benjamin
The rest of Friday nights match-ups are as follow:
Cardiff Blues: 15 Matthew Morgan, 14 Alex Cuthbert, 13 Rey Lee-Lo, 12 Willis Halaholo, 11 Aled Summerhill, 10 Jarrod Evans, 9 Lloyd Williams, 8 Nick Williams, 7 Josh Navidi, 6 Josh Turnbull, 5 Damian Welch, 4 Seb Davies, 3 Taufa’ao Filise, 2 Matthew Rees (c), 1 Rhys Gill
Replacements: 16 Kirby Myhil, 17 Corey Domachowski, 18 Keiron Assiratti, 19 Macauley Cook, 20 vSion Bennett, 21 Tomos Williams, 22 Steve Shingler, 23 Tom James
Edinburgh: 15 Blair Kinghorn, 14 Dougie Fife, 13 Chris Dean, 12 Junior Rasolea, 11 Jason Harries, 10 Duncan Weir, 9 Sam Hidalgo-Clyne, 8 Magnus Bradbury (c), 7 John Hardie, 6 Jamie Ritchie, 5 Grant Gilchrist, 4 Anton Bresler, 3 WP Nel, 2 Stuart McInally, 1 Darryl Marfo
Replacements: 16 Ross Ford, 17 Michele Rizzo, 18 Simon Berghan, 19 Ben Toolis, 20 Cornell du Preez, 21 Nathan Fowles, 22 Jason Tovey, 23 Glenn Bryce
Munster: 15 Andrew Conway, 14 Darren Sweetnam,13 Chris Farrell, 12 Jaco Taute, 11 Alex Wootton, 10 Tyler Bleyendaal (c), 9 Duncan Williams, 8 Jack O’Donoghue, 7 Tommy O’Donnell, 6 Sean O’Connor, 5 Billy Holland, 4 Jean Kleyn, 3 Stephen Archer, 2 Rhys Marshall, 1 Liam O’Connor
Replacements: 16 Mike Sherry, 17 Brian Scott, 18 Ciaran Parker, 19 Fineen Wycherley, 20 Robin Copeland, 21 James Hart, 22 Ian Keatley, 23 Dan Goggin
Treviso: 15 Ian McKinley, 14 Angelo Esposito, 13 Tommaso Benvenuti, 12 Tommaso Allan, 11 Edoardo Gori, 10 Marty Banks, 9 Tito Tebaldi, 8 Whetu Douglas, 7 Sebastian Negri, 6 Francesco Minto, 5 Marco Lazzaroni, 4 Dean Budd (c), 3 Simone Ferrari, 2 Luca Bigi, 1 Federico Zani
Replacements: 16 Engjel Makelara, 17 Cherif Traore, 18 Marco Riccioni, 19 Federico Ruzza, 20 Abraham Steyn, 21 Giorgio Bronzini, 22 Alberto Sgarbi, 23 Andrea Buondonno
Preview Scarlets v Southern Kings
The Kings will have to take on last years PRO12 champions when they face the Scarlets on Saturday evening in their first round match.
Not just have they the champions to play against but they will have a passionate support to content with as well.
The Kings start another competition with almost a total new look squad but coach Davids have show this year in the Super Rugby that he can bring a team together and play some attractive rugby.
They surprise many this year in Super Rugby and Davids will hope that what he had with his team in Super Rugby will continue in teh PRO14.
They have lost a few standout players after Super Rugby but have drafted some quality and experience players from other unions on loan for the PRO14.
The exciting part of the Kings will be the fact that Davids was able to bring young players through the system and we will be looking again for these players to make their region proud.
Hooker Michael Willemse will lead the team with Coleman playing at the pivotal role at flyhalf.
Other names that pop out for the Kings are Sibusiso Sithole, Schalk Ferreira, Bobby de Wee, Godlen Masimla and Khaya Majola to name a few.
It will be a difficult introduction to the PRO14 for the Kings but will shown us exactly what they have in them against the Champions.
Scarlets – TBC
Kings – 15 Masixole Banda, 14 Yaw Penxe, 13 Berton Klaasen, 12 Luzuko Vulindlu, 11 Sibusiso Sithole, 10 Kurt Coleman, 9 Rudi van Rooyen, 8 Andisa Ntsila, 7 Victor Sekekete, 6 Khaya Majola, 5 Dries van Schalkwyk, 4 Jurie van Vuuren, 3 Rossouw de Klerk, 2 Michael Willemse (c), 1 Schalk Ferreira.
Replacements: 16 Stephan Coetzee, 17 Luvuyo Pupuma, 18 Entienne Swanepoel, 19 Bobby de Wee, 20 Siyabulela Mdaka, 21 Godlen Masimla, 22 Ntabeni Dukisa, 23 Jacques Nel.
Glasgow Warriors: TBA