The Port Elizabeth side suffered a last-minute 31-30 defeat against the Toyota Cheetahs in Port Elizabeth two weeks ago before slumping to a 45-0 defeat against the Free Staters in Bloemfontein, but despite this Kempson refused to be deflated.

With a two-match tour ahead - against Munster on Valentine’s Day (Friday, 14 February) and the Scarlets on Sunday, 23 February - Kempson knows there is plenty to play for especially after the positive signs of growth his charges have shown in the last few months. 

“It will not be too difficult to get up after this as we have a strong leadership group,” said Kempson. “We have meetings with the player group at the start of every week and the discussion will be about how we get the guys back on their feet.

“We have a good group of fairly experienced players who want to perform and are hungry to do well, so I really don’t think it will be difficult to get them up.

“We produced a really good performance in the first game against the Cheetahs and we should have won that game, so we know we can do it and there won’t be any lack of belief.

“We just need to learn to turn in the good performances more consistently.”

The Isuzu Southern Kings have had some bad luck with injuries this season and last weekend was no different, with Bader Pretorius (flyhalf) - who was starting to show signs of growth at pivot after getting his chance when JT Jackson moved to inside centre - joining the list of casualties.

Fortunately for Kempson, the void left by Pretorius can be filled by experienced flyhalf Demetri Catrakilis, who is officially back in action after taking the field as a replacement in Bloemfontein.

“I am very happy to have Demetri back,” said Kempson. “He came through the odd minutes he had on the field very well.

“That said, it was very unfortunate for Bader, and he will definitely be out of the tour.”

Also missing the tour through injuries sustained in Bloemfontein are Jackson, Cameron Dawson (prop) and Yaw Penxe (winger).

The team’s tour will be followed by extended run of home games, which includes visits by Connacht, Edinburgh, Leinster and the Scarlets.