Kings flyer gets to shake things up

SOUTHERN Kings flyer Siviwe "Shakes" Soyizwapi has been called up to the Stormers squad ahead of their opening Super Rugby match against the Lions at Ellis Park on Saturday.

The hard-running Soyizwapi made a big impression on Stormers coach Allister Coetzee earlier this month when the Stormers beat the Kings 40-7 in a Super Rugby friendly at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium.

"It is very satisfying to see Shakes' talent being recognised and is testament to the good work being done here. We wish Shakes everything of the best and know that he will be a great asset to the Stormers," Kings chief executive Charl Crous said.

Soyizwapi now joins two former Southern Kings players in the Stormers ranks.

Earlier this year, talented Scott van Breda was called up by the Stormers and flyhalf Demetri Catrakilis is also playing for the Cape side.

Last week, EP rugby was given a massive shot in the arm after SA Rugby bosses decided to include the Kings in an enlarged eight-team Currie Cup Premier Division later this year.

There is now speculation that the Kings will sign several big-name players ahead of their opening match in the top flight. "It is still early days, but we may look at contracting in the odd position where we need some cover," Crous said.

New EP Kings head coach Mzwandile Stick and backline coach Carlos Spencer will get a chance to run the rule over the available talent when they play Griquas in a friendly at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium on Friday.

The Kings kick off their Vodacom Cup campaign with a match against the Kenyan Tusker Simba 15 in Cape Town on March 8.

Each Vodacom Cup section, North and South, will consist of eight teams, who will play within their divisions in the group phase.

The quarterfinals will be cross-section, with the top two teams from each section hosting the third and fourth sides from the other section in the first knockout round.

"The format of the Vodacom Cup is exactly the same as last year, when the conclusion of the competition was pretty exciting," SA Rugby chief executive Jurie Roux said.

All 14 provincial teams will be required to pick a minimum of seven black players in their match-day squads, two of whom must be forwards. A minimum of five black players will be required to start.

The numbers were determined in line with SA Rugby's global transformation strategy and having reviewed historical levels of black representation in the competition."This decision to introduce measurable targets underlines our commitment to transformation," South African Rugby Union president Oregan Hoskins said. The Vodacom Cup sections are:

North: Blue Bulls, Golden Lions, Griffons, Griquas, Leopards 15, Limpopo Blue Bulls, Pumas, Falcons.

South: Boland Cavaliers, Border Bulldogs, EP Kings, Free State 15, Tusker Simba 15, Sharks 15, SWD Eagles, Western Province.