Fullback SP Marais says he considered giving up the game after his horrific experiences at the Kings.
In an interview with Sport24, Marais said players had been ‘thrown to the dogs’, while he highlighted the numerous promises that had gone unfulfilled after he joined the Kings with the hope of earning inclusion in their Super Rugby squad.
Marais has yet to receive any payment from the Kings since signing a contract from 1 November, and has now returned to Durban to continue his rehabilitation from a knee injury.
‘This is by far the lowest and darkest point of my career. I’ve even considered hanging up my boots,’ he told Sport24.co.za. ‘I didn’t feel that it was worth it anymore. It’s probably been the toughest mental test that I’ve ever had to go through. At the end of the day you feel like giving up because your career is in the hands of someone else.
‘I had nowhere to go, nowhere to be. I was on the verge of literally hanging up my boots. I honestly considered it,’ he added.
Marais said he was ‘left in the dark’ following his omission from the Southern Kings’ Super Rugby squad.
‘There were a lot of empty promises made to me. I believed the promises and then ended up getting into the situation that I am in now … There were only a few guys who [got] contracts from Saru for the Southern Kings and I wasn’t part of that group. It would have meant that I had to hang around there [Port Elizabeth] forever doing nothing. I haven’t been given any reason. I didn’t even receive a phone call saying that I’m not getting a contract. They only phoned the guys that they were giving a contract to, so I was completely left in the dark.
'There are about 18 guys still floating around PE looking for jobs … looking for income. We’ve been thrown into the deep end and now we have to swim. There is no lifeline for us, nobody helping us. We’ve all been left to fight for ourselves.'
Marais, who is currently unemployed and facing an uncertain future, also called for accountability from EPRU president Cheeky Watson.
‘I don’t think Cheeky realises what he’s done to players like us, and that’s just me saying it from my side. There are brilliant players like Tim Whitehead who also have nowhere to play. Our careers have been put on hold thanks to him and there’s no consideration for what he’s done to us.’
Photo: Steve Haag/Gallo Images