Cape Town - The Southern Kings will find the going extremely tough in their return to Super Rugby, an Australian website has predicted.
The Kings, along with Japan’s Sunwolves and Argentina’s Jaguares, join the fray in an expanded 18-team competition this year.
The build-up to the Kings’ re-entry into the competition has been nothing short of disastrous, with the South African Rugby Union (SARU) forced to step in after the EP Rugby Union’s financial struggles saw them unable to pay the players’ salaries.
SARU opted to appoint a new coach, Deon Davids, as well as sign players in an attempt to get the Kings prepared for the gruelling season ahead.
But the Kings squad is still largely inexperienced, with lock Steven Sykes accounting for 30 percent of the squad’s Super Rugby caps.
He played 69 times for the Sharks, 15 for the Kings in 2013 and 14 for the Cheetahs last season.
Foxsports.com.au is sceptical about the Kings’ re-entry into Super Rugby and predicted a tough season for the men from Port Elizabeth.
“The Southern Kings are returning to Super Rugby after a two-year absence and the performances of South African rugby’s political hot potato aren’t expected to be pretty,” the website wrote.
It’s no secret that SARU has for long pushed for the permanent inclusion of the Kings in Super Rugby - something the Australian website noted.
“Certain forces in South African rugby and politics have long lobbied for a Super Rugby team in the populous Eastern Cape, which is home to a large number of coloured and black people.
“The 2016 expansion - also featuring Argentina and Japan - offered a lifeline for a return, even though the playing stocks in South Africa don’t support it.
“Frankly, while the political motives might be sound, the Kings are shaping as on-field peasants this season.
“The franchise’s feeder, Eastern Province, were a rabble in the Currie Cup, with players, management and coaching staff not being paid on time.”