Cape Town - The Southern Kings on Sunday announced the signing of the first 20 players to their new 2016 Super Rugby squad.
The group will report for duty at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium on Monday for the continuation of administration and logistical preparations as well as working on strength and conditioning programmes. More signings will be made before the completed squad report for duty on January 4.
The South African Rugby Union (SARU) confirmed the players would be paid during the course of the week for November and December by a new holding company created and wholly owned by SARU to manage the financial affairs of the Southern Kings.
Charl Crous - the CEO of the Eastern Province Rugby Union - was also confirmed as the chief operating officer (COO) of the Southern Kings. He has relinquished his role at the EPRU to take up the position.
Luke Watson, who was the Kings’ captain for the last few seasons, is not part of the initial 20 players contracted.
In related news, the Kings will also be launching their season ticket sales and replica team clothing range at the Kings’ club shop in the Port Elizabeth Boardwalk on Monday. A Ticketpro office will also be available at the shop.
Jurie Roux, CEO of the South African Rugby Union, commented: “There have been a number of obstacles to overcome but we have made considerable progress in the past week.
“There has been a lot of overheated speculation about all manner of things but we have not lost sight of our responsibility.
“Our only desire has been to rescue the Southern Kings from the parlous state in which they found themselves and put together a competitive squad to represent the people of the Eastern Cape with pride in Vodacom Super Rugby.
“A new company has had to be formed to do that and with the assistance of the South African Rugby Players’ Association (SARPA) we have signed a number of the Eastern Province Kings whom our Rugby Department identified as fitting into a Super Rugby squad.
“Our implementation team is in discussions with other unions and players to complete the signing of the squad that we have in mind.”
Roux said that further announcements would be made as and when signings were completed.
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)