Kings coach pleased with pre-season progress
Port Elizabeth - An upbeat Southern Kings coach Deon Davids is pleased with the progress of his squad during the pre-season campaign ahead of the Super Rugby season.
The Port Elizabeth-based side returned to training this week following a two-and-a-half weeks’ festive season break eager to complete their last leg of pre-season preparations ahead of the opening match against Jaguares at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium on February 25.
Coach Davids is happy his side has had an opportunity to have a full pre-season, unlike in previous seasons when this proved to be a challenge.
“We were fortunate this time that we were able to start a bit earlier,” said Davids.
“Unfortunately, we did start a bit late with some of the contracting because of certain circumstances, but we are much ahead in comparison with where we were last year. We have had two wonderful months of pre-season.”
The coach is also pleased with the manner in which the players in the squad have responded.
“It has been quite interesting and challenging. Some of the guys have not really been used to the workload, some responded well. Overall, each individual progressed and got better as we went through the pre-season,” he said.
“Under the circumstances, in a short space of time, we were lucky to be able to put together a reasonable squad of talented players. There are a lot of exciting youngsters coming through. I think we have a good balance, although there will always be one or two positions where you could think that we could still try and test things.
“But overall, I’m quite happy with where we are. Again, this time last year we did not have a squad and now we are in a fortunate position.
“In the best circumstances we would have liked to have had some continuity - building from the Currie Cup into Super Rugby, but unfortunately we work under different circumstances. However, I do think we can look forward to seeing the squad playing.”
Davids, his coaching staff and the players are eager to be back on the playing pitch.
The Southern Kings will play two warm-up matches in the build-up to the start of the Super Rugby campaign.
They take on Border Bulldogs in East London on February 4 and then face the SWD Eagles at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium on February 11.
“The game is played at a very high intensity - the demands physically and from a running perspective are very high. We all know that last year we struggled a bit in the last 20 to 30 minutes because we did not have a pre-season. This year we have laid the foundation. If we continue to build on this, then we will be able to do better, conditioning-wise this year,” said Davids.
“The two friendlies will be all about ourselves. We have worked on a few things and we are excited to see if we can play at a certain tempo. We are excited to see the things we have learnt from our previous experiences - how that will show on the field of play. We are also excited about some of the players who will have first-time exposure to Super Rugby. We also want to see how certain combinations work. It will also be an opportunity to see what work we need to do before our first game.
“Super Rugby is an exciting competition, it’s very tough, but it is a privilege to be part of it. Each one, from player to management, is looking forward to the competition and we can’t wait for that first game.”
Kings’ warm-up matches:
February 4: Border Bulldogs v Southern Kings, East London (17:15 kick-off)
February 11: Southern Kings v SWD Eagles, Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium (17:15 kick-off)