We’re just three weeks away from the beginning of the new PRO14 season and it’s safe to say that the build up has been a little bit different than normal after the long awaited confirmation that the Southern Kings and the Cheetahs are joining the competition.
The two South African sides are entering unknown waters themselves, and they have to deal with a relatively short off-season. Their last match of Super Rugby action took place less than a month ago and the PRO14 season begins in just three weeks time.
In contrast to this, the rest of the PRO14 clubs finished up their seasons in May. As if this didn’t pose a significant challenge for the two South African sides already, the Southern Kings are facing significant problems off-the field also.
A number of their top players have already left the club with the likes of Malcolm Jaer, Makazole Mapimpi [Cheetahs] Tyler Paul, Ross Geldenhuys [Sharks], Chris Cloete [Munster], Lionel Cronjé [Toyota Verblitz] and Wilhelm van der Sluys [Exeter Chiefs] all departing.
And according to a report in SA Rugby Magazine, the Kings have yet to finalise their squad for the upcoming season and even more alarmingly, a settled group of players have yet to begin training. The report further reveals that coach, Deon Davids, is working frantically behind the scenes to assemble a competitive squad and also liaising with other unions in order to pursue potential loan deals for specific players.
The Kings kick off their campaign against reigning champions, Scarlets, in Wales on September 2nd before travelling to Connacht a week later. They will then return to Port Elizabeth where they will host Leinster in their first home game of the season.