Clock ticks as Kings remain in limbo

DECEMBER 10, 2015

The Southern Kings are, quite simply, running out of time. 

A little over 11 weeks remain until the start of Super Rugby 2016, when the Kings make their return to the tournament with a home fixture against the Sharks on February 27. 

But just who will be running out for the Port Elizabeth-based franchise at Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium remains uncertain. 

The South African Rugby Union (SARU) this week presented a group of players with contracts, looking to secure their services for the competition, but details of which players have been offered those contracts remains unclear. 

SARU has taken on the responsibility of ensuring that the Kings are able to field a competitive side in next year's competition, and part of that plan was appointing Deon Davids as head coach last week. 

But in order to coach, Davids needs players. 

The players currently contracted to the Eastern Province Rugby Union (EPRU) have had a nightmare in recent months in terms of fighting for their salaries, and for some, their Super Rugby futures remain unclear. 

One player who has confirmed he was offered a SARU contract is scrumhalf Kevin Luiters, but he told SARugbymag.co.za that he would stand by the requests made to the Kings and SARU by a group of concerned players. 

Those requests included that all outstanding payments to Kings staff be made by December 18 and that a vote over the existing Kings leadership be facilitated. 

In the meantime, though, the clock continues to tick without any on-field pre-season training taking place. 

SARU confirmed to Sport24 that Davids and his management team are at an advanced stage in their background planning phase, and that once the squad was assembled they could begin training as a group. 

The Kings, meanwhile, say that there are players using the gym facilities at the union and training as "individuals", but the onus appears to be on the players to do that.

"The gym is always available and there are certain players training, but not as a group," a Kings spokesperson said.

"There is always a conditioning coach on hand."

For SARU, though, any outstanding funds owed to EP Kings players and staff before the Super Rugby intervention is not the primary concern. Assembling a Super Rugby squad is. 

-Sport24