THE EP Kings have suffered a double blow ahead of their long-awaited return to the Currie Cup Premier Division in August.
First came news that giant lock Rynier Bernardo had signed a three-year deal to play for the Ospreys in Wales and then the Kings officials announced that wing Michael Killian had decided to retire.
“Rynier has been a great success story for Eastern Province rugby, having come through the ranks from junior level, being part of the Kings Academy and being able to play professional rugby at Vodacom Cup, Currie Cup and Super Rugby level in his home province,” Kings chief executive Charl Crous said.
“He has been a valuable member of our squad, and we are sad to see him go, but we are also excited for him and wish him everything of the best as he begins the next leg of his professional rugby career,” Crous said.
After an impressive professionalrugbycareer that has spanned over a decade, Killian will be hanging up his boots to take on new challenges in the corporate sector.
“Michael has had a long and impressive rugby career, a large part of which he has spent with the Eastern Province. We are very sad to see him go but understand that there comes a time in every rugby player’s career where they have to make this decision.”
“Michael has been granted an exciting opportunity to enter into the corporate world in Nelson Mandela Bay and we wish him well with his new venture and this exciting new chapter in his life,” Crous said.
Killian said it had been a difficult decision to make, but he had been given a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that he simply could not pass up.
Killian has played for Eastern Province since 2002, when he represented the Mighty Elephants in the U19 provincial competition.
He went on to play in the U21 B section the following year before making his professional debut for EP in 2004 in the Vodacom Shield and Absa Currie Cup First Division.
He was also part of the SA Students team from 2005 to 2007 and played in the Students Sevens World Cup in 2006. Killian continued to play for EP through to 2007 before signing with the Golden Lions in 2008 and becoming a regular for the Lions Super Rugby franchise.
Bernardo said he was looking forward to playing in Wales. “This is a fantastic opportunity for me, personally and professionally, and I’m excited about arriving in Wales this summer,” he said.
“The Ospreys are a great team used to competing at the top end of the PRO12, with some great players, and I’m looking forward to being a part of a young and talented squad there.
“It’s a big challenge for me, but I can’t wait to get started. Hopefully I’ll be able to make a big impression and help the team to success, domestically and in European competition.” – George Byron