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South African Super Rugby franchise the Southern Kings have announced the signings of the first 20 players to their new Super Rugby squad.
The Eastern Province Rugby Union have been in financial troubles for some time which has led the South African Rugby Union to step in and take control of the Super Rugby franchise.
A surprise ommission from the squad is that of Luke Watson who is Cheeky Watson’s son and was brought back from England to captain the Kings when they rejoined Super Rugby in 2013.
A statement from the South African Rugby Union states that there will be further signings to the squad which will report for duty at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium on Monday to begin preparations for the new season.
The full squad will be completed and report for duty on 4 January but immediately the new signings will continue with administration and logistical preparations as well as working on strength and conditioning programmes
The South African Rugby Union 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 the South African Rugby Union 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.
Jurie Roux, CEO of the South African Rugby Union, said: “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 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 (fullback),
Siyanda Grey (wing/centre),
JP du Plessis (centre),
Stefan Watermeyer (centre),
Elgar Watts (flyhalf),
Louis Fouche (flyhalf),
Shane Gates (flyhalf),
James Hall (scrumhalf),
Kevin Luiters (scrumhalf),
Aidon Davis (loose forward),
Junior Pokomela (loose forward),
CJ Velleman (loose forward),
Stefan Willemse (looseforward),
Thembelani Bholi (loose forward),
Cornell Hess (lock),
Steven Sykes (lock),
Tyler Paul (lock/flank),
Schalk Ferreira (prop),
Tom Botha (prop),
Edgar Marutlulle (hooker).
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