Deon Davids has been named head coach of the Kings as part of Saru's plan for the new-look franchise's re-entry to Vodacom Super Rugby.
Davids, currently coach of the SWD Academy, takes over from Brent Janse van Rensburg. He will take charge of a planned 42-player squad, of which around half are expected to come from the existing Eastern Province squad.
The Kings team will be augmented by consultant coaches from the Saru mobi-unit, while the financial affairs will be handled by Saru chief financial officer Basil Haddad. Saru CEO Jurie Roux said that the players and management would be paid due salaries next week, although the position of players not contracted to the Kings by Saru remains a question to be resolved by the EPRU.
Match-day eventing at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium will be handled by stadium operators Access Management.
'I’d like to start by thanking the players and staff of the Kings, as well as the people of the Eastern Cape for their patience while we have been working as hard as we can to put a workable plan into place,' Roux said. 'We are unable to go into all the player details right now as we still have to confirm some contracts and tie up loan arrangements but, considering when we started and from what base, I am very pleased with where we have come.
'I believe we are putting together a more than competent squad that will not only be representative of the region but coincidentally meets the targets of our strategic transformation plan four years ahead of schedule. The squad we have identified will have around 50% black players, while the management team is more than 50% black. Our rugby department has picked the best available talent.'
Saru has worked with the South African Rugby Players’ Association in communicating the plans and expectations with the Kings players.
Davids will be assisted by Mzwandile Stick (backs coach), Barend Pieterse (forwards coach) and Nadus Niewoudt (conditioning coach), while Zingi Hela – the manager of the Border Academy – will be the team manager.
'It is a slimmed-down coaching team, but it will be ably supported by the expertise we have in our mobi-unit and other Saru resources to give them every chance of flying the Kings’ flag with pride,' Roux commented.
'Next week will be spent on medical, administration and logistical planning before the players break up and work on individualised fitness programmes before returning on 4 January. We have already earmarked some warm-up matches against local opposition in January, so, we believe that on-field affairs are well in hand.'
Roux said that he hoped to confirm two new sponsorships in the new year that would assist in funding the Kings.
Kings president Cheeky Watson thanked Saru for its assistance.
'We can’t wait to work with them on this exciting venture. We’re fully committed to assisting Saru in making a success of the Kings in Super Rugby next year.'
Photo: Carl Fourie/ Gallo Images