Port Elizabeth - The Southern Kings officially kicked off their 2016 season on Monday, with a number of players from the Border Bulldogs, South Western Districts and Sharks joining the team on trial ahead of their return to Super Rugby in February.
The new players on trial from Border include loose forwards Billy Dutton (26) and Onke Dubase (26), hooker Mihlali Mpafi (24), wing Michael Makase (25) and scrumhalf Ntando Kebe (27).
SWD players included Leighton Eksteen (21), who has played at scrumhalf, flyhalf and fullback, and Luzuko Vulindlu (28) who has played at centre and wing.
Sharks players include hooker Monde Hadebe (25) and centre Lukhanyo Am (22).
Southern Kings Chief Operating Officer, Charl Crous, told the EP Kings Army that these players had joined them on a trial basis, and that a final squad would only be announced towards the end of January.
Crous also confirmed that tighthead prop, Jacobie Adriaanse, who recently returned to South Africa having spent time with French Top 14 side Montpellier, had been signed. He said the Kings had also secured the services of lock Schalk Oelofse (27) who was on loan from SWD for the season.
“We are still in the process of negotiating with other players and with the other unions, but we have made significant progress over the December break and things are looking positive, with more player announcements expected over the coming weeks,” said Crous.
Head coach, Deon Davids, said there was a sense of quiet optimism among the players at the first orientation meeting this morning.
“The players are all very positive and excited about the season ahead,” he said.
Davids said the first week would focus on testing, as well as team building, with a number of workshops also planned. He said more rugby orientated training would begin in earnest from next week. Southern Kings signings (to date): Malcolm Jaer (20, Fullback), Siyanda Grey (26, wing/centre), JP du Plessis (24, centre), Stefan Watermeyer (27, centre), Elgar Watts (30, flyhalf), Louis Fouche (25, flyhalf), Shane Gates (23, flyhalf), James Hall (19, scrumhalf), Kevin Luiters (23, scrumhalf), Aidon Davis (21, No 8), Sipato Junior Pokomela (19, No 8), Cyril-John Velleman (20, flank), Stefan Willemse (23, flank), Thembelani Bholi (25, flank), Cornell Hess (26, lock), Steven Sykes (31, lock), Tyler Paul (20, lock/flank), Schalk Ferreira (31, prop), Tom Botha (25, prop), Edgar Marutlulle (27, hooker), Jacobie Adriaanse (30, prop), Schalk Oelofse (27, lock)