AFTER being blanked 3-0 by the Cheetahs, Lions and Stormers, the Southern Kings will have to lift their game when they face the Bulls and Sharks in further Super Rugby friendlies later in the season. Though no date has been set for the games at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium, they will be played during the break in the Super Rugby season in June.
The next game for the EP Kings is a clash against Griquas at the NMB Stadium on February 21 and this will be used as a warm-up for the Vodacom Cup.
The Kings kick off their Vodacom Cup campaign against the Kenyan Tusker Simba XV in Cape Town on March 8. Southern Kings acting head coach Robbi Kempson, who described his team’s effort against the Stormers on Friday as “borderline pathetic”, said a full preparation programme had been mapped out for the side.
“A lot hinges on the vote by SA Rugby chiefs on Thursday about whether the Kings will be promoted to an enlarged eight-team Currie Cup Premier Division next season,” Kempson said. “What happens in the vote will have a massive effect on what we do with the players going forward. If there is no Premier Division then there will be a Super Rugby promotion match to consider. That will have an impact on how we prepare the players going forward.
“If we do find ourselves in the Currie Cup Premier Division those games against the Sharks and Bulls in the window break will be important. We would field full-strength sides as warm-ups for the Currie Cup.
“There is almost four weeks to the start of the Vodacom Cup and EP Kings head coach Mzwandile Stick and backline coach Carlos Spencer are overseeing that process,” Kempson said.
Kempson said it was clear that some of the players needed conditioning. “You saw against the Stormers that we were quite off the pace, particularly our tight forwards and we were generally hopeless apart from lock Steven Sykes.
“We do need a proper conditioning phase so we can get the players on the front foot if a Currie Cup Premier Division scenario materialises.”
If the Kings are refused entry into the top tier, then their prime focus will be on winning the Currie Cup First Division so they can gain entry by that route.
Almost 16000 fans attended Friday’s clash against the Stormers in which the home side failed to match the high intensity of the Super Rugby outfit. The Stormers crossed for six tries and afterwards a delighted coach Allister Coetzee said it had been a case of “mission accomplished” for his team in the Bay.