Andy Friend says Connacht’s PRO14 play-off hopes are on a knife-edge and only a victory in South Africa will suffice.
With eight games remaining after this weekend’s action, Connacht are already seven points shy of third-placed Scarlets in Conference B, a side that the westerners host next time out.
There is plenty of doubt surrounding the remaining games in the PRO14 due to the coronavirus crisis and Connacht still have to go to Italy to face Zebre and Benetton in the coming weeks.
But Friend wants his men not to lose sight of the task in hand and wants them to put Southern Kings to the sword at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium tomorrow.
“We have got our backs right up against the wall,” said Friend.
“We made the statement to the boys the other day: ‘There’s nine games left and to do what we want to we have to win a minimum of seven.’
“No one is shying away from it. We know what we have got to do, and we know what is at stake. It’s now for us to do that.”
Connacht’s 41-14 hammering at the hands of Edinburgh last time out has left them in a precarious position and Friend has made six changes.
The postponement of Ireland’s Six Nations game against Italy has had positive impact for Connacht with Ultan Dillane and Dave Heffernan released from camp and have made the trip to South Africa.
There are three changes in the backs where Matt Healy starts on the left wing with Tom Daly at inside centre and Caolin Blade coming in at scrum-half.
Props Paddy McAllister and Dominic Robertson-McCoy start in the front row with Dillane in the engine room.
SOUTHERN KINGS: M Banda; C Hollis, S Sithole, H Mnisi, E Cronje; S Masuku, S Ungerer; S Ferreira, A van Rooyen, R de Klerk; J Sexton, JC Astle; L Badiyana, T Bholi, E Louw.
Replacements: R Stevens, X Vos, P Scholtz, B de Wee, R Lerm, T Maree, T Botes, J Twum-Boafo.
CONNACHT: T O’Halloran; J Porch, K Godwin, T Daly, M Healy; J Carty, C Blade; P McAllister, S Delahunt, D Robertson-McCoy; U Dillane, J Maksymiw; P Boyle, C Fainga’a, J Butler.