The Kings’ most-capped player, Schalk Ferreira, believes a committed long-term coaching and playing squad is key for the franchise to finally achieve sustainable success, writes CRAIG LEWIS.
There has been plenty of upheaval in Kings country recently, with SA Rugby having to step in again to assume interim management control of the franchise after the disintegration of its private-entity partners.
It’s led to another rebuilding phase for the Kings, with a new five-person board confirmed at the beginning of July to oversee the organisation’s affairs.
Interim coach Robbie Kempson has also revealed that the Kings are hunting for a new head coach in the lead-up to the 2020-21 season, while squad restructuring is also well under way.
Chatting to SA Rugby magazine for the upcoming print issue, which is on sale from Friday, Ferreira – who has played under five different head coaches at the Kings – identified what he believed was key for the franchise to finally live up to its high expectations.
‘I think for any successful side, you need to have a stable coaching system to build a culture that drives success, and to have players who are committed long term. Quite often we’ve had too many players and coaches coming in and out.
‘You need at least three years together with a group of guys that all believe in the same plans and vision. It’s far too disruptive when you’re constantly trying to adapt to new coaching structures, and having different players coming in, some who are still very inexperienced.’
Ferreira first joined then Kings in 2012, and featured in their debut Vodacom Super Rugby season in 2013. However, when the Eastern Cape side was knocked out of the competition, he headed abroad for a stint with Toulouse.
Upon returning to South Africa, though, the experienced prop rejoined the Kings in 2015.
‘It’s a team that is very close to my heart,’ he reflects. ‘It was a stage when Cheeky [Watson] was in control, with hopes of big sponsors, but it all went belly up quite quickly. That led to a very challenging time, but I was just grateful to be able to play rugby.
‘We had some memorable matches when we were able to get back into Super Rugby, and there were the likes of Lukhanyo Am, Makazole Mapimpi and Lionel Cronje playing at certain times. There’s a lot that’s gone at the Kings since then. I enjoyed play under coach Deon Davids, and then we’ve moved into the PRO14.
‘We had the new investors coming in when the Kings became the first black-owned company last year, and now SA Rugby has taken over again. So, there have certainly been lots of ups and downs, but I still maintain that the Kings are a very special team.’
*The full feature with Ferreira can be found in the upcoming SA Rugby magazine, on sale from this weekend.