IF Edinburgh Rugby head coach Richard Cockerill was needing any inside information on his side’s opponents ahead of the visit of Southern Kings tomorrow, he will have been in no doubt as to who to go to.

Mike Willemse signed for the capital club from the Kings last summer having spent two seasons there, and he remains in close contact with a number of his former teammates. And so he knows more than most when to expect when the Port Elizabeth side come to Murrayfield this weekend.

The hooker is well aware though that his familiarity with his former team means he is unlikely to get an easy ride.

“I’m looking forward to it,” the 26-year-old said of the game.

“Those boys will be gunning for me but I’m looking forward to the challenge and it should be quite a nice one.”

On paper, Edinburgh should have little problem collecting the points with the home side in excellent form having defeated Glasgow Warriors last weekend to keep the 1872 Cup alive and the Kings currently sitting bottom of their Pro14 conference having won only one league game all season. Add to that the fact the South Africans are notoriously bad travellers and Edinburgh should have little trouble grabbing the win.

However, Willemse is aware of the work they have put in since his departure, coupled with the fact the South Africans defeated Edinburgh last season, albeit on their home patch, and so insists any complacency would be a huge mistake.

“They’ve really been working hard. I’ve been speaking to a couple of the boys and they have definitely put some decent systems in place,” he said.

“The bigger picture is turning into a positive thing with their first away win against the Ospreys. I think they will be pretty happy about that and take that into this game.

“Looking at last year, the way that Kings beat Edinburgh back in Port Elizabeth, we will have to be on our A-game. We can’t take any games lightly and we will go into this one with a strong mind.”

Edinburgh have been in impressive form so far this season, and are currently sitting in second-place position in their conference, just a point behind leaders Munster. Much of their success this season has been as a result of the strength-in-depth throughout the squad, with Willemse facing particularly stiff competition for a starting spot.

He is vying for a place in Cockerill’s match-day squad against fellow hookers and Scotland internationalist Cammy Fenton, Dave Cherry, not to mention Edinburgh and Scotland captain, Stuart McInally.

It is a quite a group of hookers Cockerill has accumulated but Willemse remains unfazed at the level of competition he faces.

“We really get on very well and all help each other when we can,” he said.

“There is a really good vibe between us all. We’re happy to help when we can. Whoever is on the field, we want them to do as well as they can for the team and hopefully produce the goods.

“We’ll see what Cockers puts out (this weekend) in terms of rotation. A couple of boys will have to be rested just in terms of games for Scotland and whatnot. The nice thing about it is, with the World Cup, we have been able to rotate the squad quite a bit so anyone getting an opportunity is ready to do the job.

“Whoever is in that position, is pretty comfortable there and will be looking to put their hand up.”

Willemse gained international selection for South Africa as an under-20 player, but he has yet to break into the senior squad. However, his form for Edinburgh this season, which has seen him make 11 appearances and score two tries, has, he believes, edged him closer to the Springboks squad.

But whatever happens regarding international selection, Willemse is confident that the improvements he has made in his game since joining the capital side will stand him in good stead whatever the future may hold.

“I’ve definitely improved my game since coming here in terms of set-piece, being able to deal with various different situations and whatnot,” he said.

“Cockers and the rest of the coaching staff drive a hard forward pack. They want a strong edge and obviously rely quite a bit on the hookers to get the boys going.

“It’s just been really good for me and my career to be involved in such a good pack. All the work off the field, during the week, is something that I will take with me for the rest of my life.”