Michael Willemse will captain the South African side for their first season in the Pro 14.

Southern Kings head coach Deon Davids has named his 27 man squad for their upcoming tour up north as they face Scarlets and Connacht.

The Kings face Scarlets first then travel to Galway to face 2016 champions Connacht. As part of the squad announcement ahead of the games Davids explained that it was a natural decision to chose Willemse as his captain because of his leader attributes.

Willemse was part of the Kings Vodacom cup team before moving to the Golden Lions in July but has since returned to Davids side.

Speaking at the announcement of his side Deon Davids said

“I have decided that Michael Willemse will lead this group on this tour,”

 “He rejoined us and has been with us for about a week. Mike is quite familiar with our team culture and the way we play.

“I think he was one of the standout performers for us last season in the Vodacom Super Rugby competition. He is one of our core group of players that are still part of our set-up. He has been a natural choice for me to take up that role as captain.”

Willemse played for the Stormers for 2 years between 2014 and 2016 before making the move to the Kings for the start of the Vodacom Super rugby season. The hooker played for the South Africa under 20 side at the Junior World Championships in 2013 making five appearances.

The front row went to secondary school at Grey high School in Port Elizabeth and went on to study at the University of Cape Town before joining Western Province.

Head coach Davids named a 27 man squad with 15 forwards and 12 backs with 10 of the squad returning from the Kings Super Rugby side.

The Kings have two players with experience of the Guinness Pro 12 in former Zebre forward Dries Van Schalkwyk and former Glasgow Warriors player Rossouw de Klerk.

Davids is excited about the tour and feels it will be a perfect setting for his players to gel

“There are always positives when you go on tour so early – you get to spend some time with the players individually, and the players also get to know each other better. So there will be a lot of benefits from this tour.

“When we come back, we will have 27 players who will have a good understanding of where we are and where we need to go. Players that are staying behind will have time to work on aspects of their game – whether it is conditioning or skills. When we get back we will suddenly have a larger pool of players we can work with.”

Here is the Southern Kings touring squad in full

SOUTHERN KINGS Squad (GUINNESS PRO14 First Tour) – Backs (12): Masixole Banda, Kurt Coleman, Ntabeni Dukisa, Rowan Gouws, Berton Klaasen, Godlen Masimla, Jacques Nel, Yaw Penxe, Sibusiso Sithole, Rudi van Rooyen, Luzuko Vulindlu, Oliver Zono.

Forwards (15): Tango Balekile, Stephan Coetzee, Rossouw de Klerk, Bobby de Wee, Martin Dreyer, Schalk Ferreira, Khaya Majola, Siyabulela Mdaka, Andisa Ntsila, Luvuyo Pupuma, Victor Sekekete, Entienne Swanepoel, Dries van Schalkwyk, Jurie van Vuuren, Michael Willemse (capt).