Super Rugby preview: Kings
Cape Town - The Kings have retained the services of coach Deon Davids and are looking for an improved display in 2017.
They finished with just two wins from their 15 matches in regular season last year, though that was enough to see them edge the Sunwolves in the South African Group.
That the Kings were even able to put a team out in 2016 was impressive given the financial and administrative issues that had plagued Eastern Province rugby, but they got through the worst of it and will be hoping for a better return in 2016.
They avoid all of the New Zealand sides in 2017 which is a major boost.
Now, instead of trips to places like Christchurch and Wellington, the Kings can look forward to hosting three Australian sides at Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium.
The Kings have lost a lot of players this season, but they at least have some continuity in the form of their coach.
There are a number of players in the Kings engine room that stand out, but flank Chris Cloete's work rate and intensity make him stand out. he battled injury towards the end of last year's tournament and has reportedly concussed himself ahead of this year's competition. Davids will be hoping that the latest setback is not a serious one, because in Cloete the Kings have a player who can make a difference. He is strong defensively, his work on the ground makes things difficult for the opposition and he is also a solid ball carrier.
Undoubtedly Ross Geldenhuys. We aren't quite sure how the Kings pulled this one off, but fair play to them. Geldenhuys (33) joins from the Highlanders where he was a Super Rugby winner in 2015. He may getting on in years, but Geldenhuys has achieved what nobody else in this Kings squad has. The fact that he knows what it takes to succeed at the the top level makes his him an incredibly valuable player for the Kings.
Where do we start? The Kings are practically a new team in 2017. They have lost a host of players to France and numerous others to South African unions. But, for us, hooker Edgar Marutlulle is the biggest loss. The 29-year-old joins the Bulls this year after being one of the standout performers for the Kings in last year's competition.
February 25: Jaguares (a)
March 4: Sunwolves (a)
March 11: Stormers (h)
March 18: Sharks (a)
March 25: Lions (h)
April 1: BYE
April 9: Force (a)
April 15: Reds (a)
April 21: Waratahs (a)
April 29: Rebels (h)
May 6: Bye
May 13: Sharks (h)
May 20: Brumbies (h)
May 28: Lions (a)
July 1: Jaguares (a)
July 8: Bulls (a)
July 14: Cheetahs (h)