Cheeky confident in Kings

    2013-02-05 14:29
    Port Elizabeth - Kings president Cheeky Watson is confident that the team will perform well in this season's Super Rugby tournament, despite SARU’s ruling that they can only field two foreign players.

    Speaking to BallzRadio, Watson said that their Super Rugby preparation was going exceptionally well and that training was in full swing.

    The Kings are set to face the Force on Saturday, February 23 (19:10) in their first ever Super Rugby game, but will first face warm-up matches against the Lions (February 9) and Griquas (February 13).

    Watson explained his reasons for putting in a request to SARU to bolster his team with foreign players.

    “We only received the announcement (that the Kings would be included in Super Rugby) on August 16 last year, and we had at least eight local players that were waiting in the wings to be signed,” Watson said.

    “We were pushing for the announcement earlier, but because it came so late, it scuttled a lot of deals that were already on the table. Because the late announcement scuttled those deals, we put in a request for foreign players,” Watson reasoned.

    Watson pointed out that that in the past Australian teams had been allowed to sign extra foreign players.

    “It is similar to what Australia did when the Melbourne Rebels joined Super Rugby. They felt their new teams coming onto the scene needed to be bolstered and it wasn’t a controversial decision.”

    “We just felt it wasn’t an unreasonable request. At the Kings we look at a foreign player only as a last resort, because you don’t want to sign a foreign player, you like to stick to your local players, but you find certain positions where you can’t find the local talent to fill that position, especially playing at the level of Super Rugby, and that is why we made the request.”

    “God created Adam out of dust. If we just stick to breeding local talent in one year, after being given Super Rugby, it would have to be a (miraculous achievement) to get those players up and running within two months.”

    Watson said that despite challenges in the short-term, he believed the region’s rugby future was bright.

    “Down the line, our academies are sitting with 65-70 percent of players of colour and 90-95 percent of the players are home-grown players. Our academies are looking good. The building-posts are looking good, and I think there is a strong possibility that up to three of the young academy players will be playing for the Kings' Super Rugby team this season,” Watson enthused.

    Watson said he accepted SARU’s decision and said it was time to move on.

    “You’ve got to realise that you have been given a task, you've been given a stacked-deck and you’ve got to deliver the goods at the end of the day.”

    “We are quite confident that we are able to deliver the goods. We accept what we have been given. We are not going to whinge and whine about it, Super Rugby is upon us,” Watson said.

    The Kings' first Super Rugby warm-up match is against the Lions at Ellis Park in Johannesburg on Saturday (14:15) in what is being billed as a grudge match.

    It is widely felt that this game could be a pre-cursor to the promotion-relegation game that will be played at the end of the 2013 Super Rugby season.

    HAVE YOUR SAY: Who will win the Super Rugby warm-up match between the Lions and the Kings? Send your thoughts to Sport24.

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