JOHANNESBURG - The Southern Kings open their Pro14 campaign in a little over two weeks... and they’re desperate to get a full squad together.
On Tuesday, coach Deon Davids named a squad of 23 players to undergo medical testing, but his group still looks thin. The good news though is that the Lions have given them a bit of a boost by making available four players who’re not involved in their Currie Cup campaign.
Bobby de Wee, Victor Sekekete, Jarryd Sage and Jacques Nel have all been made available to the Kings for their opening game against the defending champions, the Scarlets. Word from the Lions is that these men are not part of new coach Swys de Bruin’s Currie Cup plans. Giant lock JP du Preez may also still be loaned to the Kings.
It is uncertain, however, whether the players set to turn out for the Kings are merely there on loan or have signed long-term deals. Centre Stokkies Hanekom was loaned to the Kings during the Super Rugby competition, but isn’t on the 23-man list sent out by them on Tuesday, and he’s also not involved in the Lions’ Currie Cup activities.
Nel is the biggest name on the list of Lions players training with the Kings. He played a fairly big role as back-up midfielder during this year’s Super Rugby campaign, but is, admittedly, behind Harold Vorster, Rohan Janse van Rensburg, Lionel Mapoe and Howard Mnisi in the Lions’ centre queue. The departure of these players follows hot on the heels of the departure of former coach Johan Ackermann and players Akker van der Merwe and Faf de Klerk.
Ackermann is now at Gloucester, while Van der Merwe has joined the Sharks and De Klerk the Sale Sharks.
Ackermann’s son, Ruan, has also joined his father at Gloucester. Another player the Lions have said goodbye to in recent days is promising young loose forward Jano Venter. He has joined the Bulls on a two year deal.
The Lions are currently in sixth place on the seven-team Currie Cup log. De Bruin also won’t be able to pick, for some time, the eight men who’ll be on duty with the Springboks, namely Andries Coetzee, Courtnall Skosan, Elton Jantjies, Ross Cronje, Jaco Kriel, Franco Mostert, Ruan Dreyer and Malcolm Marx.
Warren Whiteley, Dylan Smith and Julian Redelinghuys are injured. Kwagga Smith is suspended and Ruan Combrinck, Lourens Erasmus and Mapoe are playing club rugby in Japan.