Super Rugby Preview: The Southern Kings

Getty Images     11 Feb 2016     Getty Images

Home: Port Elizabeth
Last season: Did not play
Best finish: Last (2013)

Squad (as of February 10):

Jacobie Adriaanse, Tom Botha, Schalk Ferreira, Vukile Sofisa, Martin Bezuidenhout, Martin Ferreira, Edgar Marutlulle, John-Charles Astle, Philip du Plessis, Tazz Fuzani, Cornell Hess
Schalk Oelofse, Tyler Paul, Steven Sykes, Stefan Willemse, Thembelani Bholi, Chris Cloete,
Aidon Davis, Jacques Engelbrecht, Sipato Junior Pokomela, Cyril-John Velleman

James Hall, Ntando Kebe, Marlon Lewis, Kevin Luiters, Louis Fouche, Theuns Kotze, Elgar Watts
Lukhanyo Am, JP du Plessis, Shane Gates, Stefan Watermeyer, Siyanda Grey, Luzuko Vulindlu
Leighton Eksteen, Malcolm Jaer, Jurgen Visser

Game Breaker:
Five-eighths Elgar Watts has been offered a rugby lifeline with the Kings. The former Cheetahs Super Rugby player from 2013-15 had to take a back seat to the likes of Johan Goosen and Riaan Smit in the pecking order to play at first five-eighths. However, he was part of the Cheetahs side who made the play-offs for the first time that year. He made 13 appearances and contributed 49 points to the side's efforts in 2014. A knee injury ruled him out of the 2015 season and he was released and signed with the Kings.

Key signing:
Jurgen Visser is a well-travelled player who offers the Southern Kings some vital experience in the backline. With 31 games for the Bulls in Super Rugby he has 40 Currie Cup appearances to his record while he has also played for Western Province. A versatile player he is capable of playing fullback, wing or halfback.

Returning veteran:
Lock Steven Sykes is a key acquisition for the Kings, and a returning player from the side's 2013 involvement in Super Rugby. He made 15 appearances that year. Earlier between 2005-10 he made 101 appearances for the Sharks in both Super Rugby and the Currie Cup. He was called into the Springboks squad as cover in the third Test against the 2009 British and Irish Lions. He also appeared that year for the Emerging Springboks, had four games with Leinster and last season played 14 times for the Cheetahs.

The scoop:
Members of the Kings might belong to the least fashionable of the South African franchises but they have everything to play for and the opportunity for constant game exposure is something they might not otherwise have expected at this level. If they can develop a common purpose relatively quickly they could have the potential to enjoy a greater impact than their predecessors made in 2013, but it is going to be a tough ask.