Kings motivated by naysayers
Cape Town - Kings captain Luke Watson
says all the negativity from outsiders regarding their Super Rugby inclusion has spurred them on in their debut Super Rugby season.
It is clear from social media and other platforms that the Kings remain deeply unpopular amongst a contingent of South African rugby fans following their controversial elevation to Super Rugby at the expense of the Lions.
However, the Kings have surprised friend and foe with their performances this year, winning two matches against the Force and Rebels and sharing the spoils against the Brumbies.
Watson said while the hostile attitude towards his side was disappointing, they made it their aim to use it in a positive manner.
"From the outset so many people rallied against the Kings for whatever reason, so while we had a sense that our support in the Eastern Cape would be strong, there wasn't much goodwill coming from beyond that region," Watson told the SA Rugby Magazine's website
"So we became a team that relies a lot on internal motivation and have become quite insular. That's just because we couldn't and probably still can't rely a lot on external motivation.
"I feel quite bad for some of the guys here, especially those who have sacrificed lucrative contracts from other South African franchises and from abroad. They believed in the vision for the Kings and came here wanting to be part of something special, something that has the potential to be one of the great South African success stories. They didn't come here to be strongly opposed by their own people."
Watson also believes their efforts will, in time, change people's perceptions which could extend their fan base beyond just the Eastern Cape.
"I think some people have seen that what we're trying to achieve through the Kings transcends rugby. People have also responded to the approach the team has adopted and the resilient spirit and camaraderie the players have displayed."
Watson is back to lead the Kings
this week after being sidelined with a throat injury since February. They host the Bulls at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium on Saturday night (19:10 kick-off).Teams:Kings:
15 George Whitehead, 14 Ronnie Cooke, 13 Waylon Murray
, 12 Andries Strauss, 11 Sergeal Petersen
, 10 Demetri Catrakilis
, 9 Shaun Venter, 8 Luke Watson
(captain), 7 Wimpie van der Walt, 6 Cornell du Preez, 5 David Bulbring, 4 Steven Sykes, 3 Kevin Buys, 2 Bandise Maku
, 1 Schalk Ferreira
Substitutes: 16 Hannes Franklin, 17 Grant Kemp, 18 Rynier Barnardo, 19 Jacques Engelbrecht, 20 Nicolas Vergallo, 21 Marcello Sampson, 22 Siviwe SoyizwapiBulls:
15 Jurgen Visser, 14 Akona Ndungane, 13 JJ Engelbrecht
, 12 Jan Serfontein
, 11 Lionel Mapoe, 10 Morne Steyn, 9 Jano Vermaak
, 8 Pierre Spies
(captain), 7 Dewald Potgieter
, 6 Deon Stegmann, 5 Juandre Kruger
, 4 Flip van der Merwe, 3 Frik Kirsten, 2 Chiliboy Ralepelle
, 1 Morne Mellett
Substitutes: 16 Callie Visagie, 17 Werner Kruger
, 18 Paul Willemse, 19 Arno Botha, 20 Rudy Paige, 21 Louis Fouche, 22 Bjorn Basson