Kevin Luiters and Ronnie Cooke, who led Kings players in handing over a petition to Cheeky Watson, have expressed their determination to fight for the ‘common good’, writes CRAIG LEWIS.
Players are being informed if they are in line to receive contracts from Saru as plans are put in place to finalise a squad for the Southern Kings’ Vodacom Super Rugby campaign.
Luiters confirmed that he had received an offer, but that he was first determined to see if the requests of the players’ petition were met.
‘I must admit I was a bit surprised and overwhelmed to receive the offer,’ he told SARugbymag.co.za. ‘It’s the last thing I really expected. But I have responded to say that I will still be adhering to the requests that we made in the petition. The needs of all the players and the greater good is what’s most relevant.’
The petition – believed to have been signed by around 30 players – stated that they would not be willing to report for duty until such time there was an Annual General Meeting or ‘extraordinary/special general meeting of the EPRU’ to address various concerns.
‘It’s a very tough situation, but we need to trust in the process now,’ Luiters said. ‘We are all committed to the dream of playing Super Rugby, but we can’t just leave other players in dire straits. Lives have been adversely affected, and we need to salvage something from this situation. This is about a common cause, and we’re just hoping for clear-cut negotiations from hereon out.’
Cooke echoed these sentiments and admitted he had not been perturbed after being informed that he would not be receiving a Super Rugby contract offer.
‘That’s irrelevant. My position from the start, and which is still the situation, is that we want what is best for the union and for all the players. We’ve very clearly set out in the petition what we want, which is for an AGM or special meeting to be held for carefully considered decisions to be made on the best leadership and management group to go forward. We also just want clarity on the financial situation and to hopefully receive some assurances of stability for the future.’
Cooke also clarified the players’ stance regarding the position of Watson, president of the EPRU, who they met to discuss various matters on Monday.
‘This has never been a matter of personal issues, and as players we’ve never said Cheeky must step down. We just want a meeting to be held so that the necessary role players can make a well-considered decision on this matter once everything has been put on the table. As players, this was just about standing up and fighting for what’s right.’
After receiving the players’ petition, it’s believed that Watson has sought feedback from Saru in order to provide a response and clarity over if, and when, these requests will be met.
Four key points of the petition:
1. An irrevocable pledge by the EPRU and Saru that all players' outstanding salaries and benefits are fully paid up on or before 18 December 2015.
2. A vote by member clubs in favour or not in favour of the current EPRU Executive Committee on or before 12 December 2015.
3. Credible and competent rugby turnaround specialists be permitted to present proposals of a sustainable funding model in association with the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan Municipality on or before Friday, 11 December 2015.
4. A vote of confidence by the EPRU clubs in the new proposal and administration and management leadership to take place on or before Saturday, 12 December.
Photo: Michael Sheehan/Gallo Images