Déjà vu for Southern Kings fans

Jan 5 • General News, Super Rugby • 1373 Views • Comments Off on Déjà vu for Southern Kings fans

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With the new 2016 Super Rugby season upon us and most fans can’t wait to see their teams take the field, you can’t blame the Southern Kings supporters as they are left with a sense of déjà vu.
As in 2013 when the Kings replaced the Lions, the Port Elizabeth franchise struggled to sign a decent squad, a sponsor – which only came after the third round – and coaching staff to assist then headcoach, Alan Solomons.

Towards the end of last year EPRU found themselves in a severe state of financial turmoil, unable to pay players and staff. It seemed like a win-win situation when SARU came to the rescue and announced they will take over the Super Rugby franchise.

At first it seemed like a good plan as players will at least be guaranteed of their monthly income. It was believed that SARU’s Mobi-Unit will take over the coaching duties which included, Pieter de Villiers (forwards), Louis Koen (kicking), Chean Roux (technical analyst), Jacques Nienaber (defense) and Rassie Erasmus.

A group of players, including Ronnie Cooke, signed a petition where they stated a no confidence in Cheeky Watson and SARU’s plan to help the franchise as only a small group of the squad will benefit.

SARU announced their coaching staff which included, Deon Davids (currently a coach at the South Western Districts Academy) as head coach, along with Mzwandile Stick (backs), Barend Pieterse (forwards) and Nadus Niewoudt (conditioning) and Zingi Hela (the manager of the Border Academy) as team manager.

SARU also announced its first group of players which included 20 current EP Kings contracted players. A big relief for them as they haven’t been paid for three months, but what about the others that are left behind? Some players have been lured from overseas or other unions with the hope of an opportunity to play Super Rugby while others just had enough and took contracts elsewhere. Cooke who has been a stalwart for the EP Kings over the last couple of seasons were simply notified by email that his services are no longer needed.

SARU CEO, Jurie Roux believe they are putting together a more than competent squad that will not only be representative of the region, but coincidentally meet the targets of their Strategic Transformation Plan.

“The squad we have identified will have around 50 percent black players while the management team is more than 50 percent black. Our Rugby Department has picked the best available talent.”
“It is a slimmed down coaching team but it will be ably supported by the expertise we have in our mobi-unit and other SARU resources to give them every chance of flying the Kings’ flag with pride”, said Roux.
The players returned to the training field today as they start their preparations for their first match against the Sharks at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium on the 27th of February.
Southern Kings signings (to date): Malcolm Jaer (20, Fullback), Siyanda Grey (26, Wing/centre), JP du Plessis (24, Centre), Stefan Watermeyer (27, Centre), Elgar Watts (30, Flyhalf), Louis Fouche (25, Flyhalf), Shane Gates (23, Flyhalf), James Hall (19, Scrumhalf), Kevin Luiters (23, Scrumhalf), Aidon Davis (21, No.8), Sipato Junior Pokomela (19, No.8), Cyril-John Velleman (20, Flank), Stefan Willemse (23, Flank), Thembelani Bholi (25, Flank), Cornell Hess (26, Lock), Steven Sykes (31, Lock), Tyler Paul (20, Lock/flank), Schalk Ferreira (31, Prop), Tom Botha (25, Prop), Edgar Marutlulle (27, Hooker).

Written by Pierre Mcleod

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