• Hoskins: Kings’ clock is ticking

    Saru president Oregan Hoskins says they are continuing to closely monitor the financial situation at the Kings, reports CRAIG LEWIS.

    It has already been confirmed that influential players Tim Whitehead, Lizo Gqoboka and Tim Agaba will be leaving the Kings, while Luther Obi and Sylvian Mahuza are the latest players to have given notice of their intent to leave.

    With players and staff having yet to be paid their October salaries, the cash-flow problem has been attributed to significant delays in the release of funds from a long-touted sponsorship deal. Kings president Cheeky Watson was expected to arrive back in South Africa on Monday, having spent the last week in Australia to meet with sponsors to try and expedite the release of these funds.

    Although there have been calls from various sectors of the public for Watson to step down, he is expected to continue in his endeavours to resolve the Kings' financial woes, which has resulted in at least three EP players being provided with food vouchers by the South African Rugby Players' Association.

    Hoskins said he had been keep abreast of the ongoing situation at the Kings.

    'The president of Eastern Province has updated me on his union’s expectations and plans,' he told SARugbymag.co.za. 'They are currently dependent on third parties for the realisation of commitments and until those come to fruition the Kings’ have no room to manoeuvre. We are all aware that the clock is ticking and we are continually reviewing the situation.'

    SARugbymag.co.za requested further insight into alternative options if the Kings' sponsorship funds fail to materialise, and what Saru's concerns and expectations are with regard to the Kings' re-entry into Super Rugby. However, Saru has stated that it cannot comment any further on the matter at this point.

    In various rugby circles, there is understandably growing concern over the Kings' ability to field a competitive side next year as players continue to head for the door. Although the Kings finished bottom of the log in their inaugural Super Rugby season in 2013, they did manage to win three games and draw one. Over the years the Kings have consistently had the backing of Saru, but it would certainly not reflect well should they suffer heavy defeats on a regular basis next year.

    The Kings were expected to have begun their Super Rugby pre-season training on Monday, but it remains to be seen what sort of squad is able to take shape after the various player movements. 

    They kick off their campaign with a match against the Sharks in PE on 27 February.

    Photo: Grant Pitcher/Gallo Images

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    Craig Lewis