New Kings coach gets in the zone

George Byron

WITH their opening match of the season against the Cheetahs just three weeks away the Southern Kings are already hard at work preparing for what promises to be a gruelling campaign.

“It is all systems go and the focus is now on getting ready for our three pre-season matches against the Cheetahs, Lions and Stormers,” Kings chief executive Charl Crous said.

“The guys are working with new coach Carlos Spencer and the build- up to the season has started.”

Though the Southern Kings were relegated from Super Rugby, a busy programme has been planned to keep fans entertained in what promises to be an absorbing season.

There will be early challenges when they play Super Rugby franchises the Cheetahs (January 25), the Lions (February 1) and the Stormers (February 7) at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium.

After their relegation from Super Rugby there was a massive clear-out of playing and coaching staff and the Kings are busy rebuilding for their new campaign.

Spencer, 38, who won 35 caps for New Zealand, was signed to coach the Kings backline and focus on developing players’ skills.

“I’m really looking forward to it. I’ve been out of rugby for the past eight or nine months, so I’ve had a nice break away from the game. It helped me realise that rugby and coaching are my big passions,” Spencer said after his appointment.

In another move, Michael Horak will be joining Eastern Province Rugby as their defensive coach later in the year.

Horak, 36, who has been the Free State Cheetahs’ defence coach since 2010, has also headed the Cheetahs academy, and was appointed general manager of the team in 2011.

Matt Sexton’s decision to return home to New Zealand last month means that the Kings do not have a head coach or director of coaching.

The Kings received another setback when midfield general Andries Strauss was signed by Edinburgh Rugby.

In Edinburgh, Strauss will join former Kings rugby director Alan Solomons and former teammate Cornell du Preez.

The Kings squad:

Timothy Agaba, Eben Barnard, Rynier Bernardo, Thembelani Bholi, Ofentse Boloko, Ronnie Cooke, Aidon Davis, Albe de Swardt, Charl du Plessis, Ntabeni Dukisa, Schalk Ferreira, Samora Fihlani, Shane Gates, Lizo Gqoboka, Siyanda Grey, Jaco Grobler, Andile Jho, Simon Kerrod, Michael Killian, Siyanda Mangaliso, Tiger Mangweni, Darron Nell, Lonwabo Ntleki, Brenden Olivier, Devin Oosthuizen, Sergeal Petersen, Paul Schoeman, Brian Skosana, Kuhle Sonkosi, Siviwe Soyizwapi, Pieter Stemmet, Steven Sykes, Claude Tshidibi, BG Uys, Scott van Breda, Marlou van Niekerk, Kayle van Zyl, Luke Watson, George Whitehead, Stefan Willemse.

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