New signings to boost EP Kings pack

THE EP Kings have bulked up their pack and back division with three new signings as they prepare for their eagerly-awaited return to the Currie Cup Premier Division in August.

EP Rugby chief executive Charl Crous has confirmed the signings of tighthead prop Tom Botha, scrumhalf Tobie Botes and Australian lock Steve Cummins.

All three have been signed until the end of the 2014 season and are expected to play a major role in a bid to establish the EP Kings in the top flight of South African rugby.

"We are very excited to announce these new signings. Tom and Steve bring some additional cover to the forward pack, while Tobie is an experienced scrumhalf with international experience," Crous said.

Both Botes and Cummins joined the team yesterday while Botha will be arriving on Monday.

Botes, 30, was born in Worcester, Western Cape, and played for Griquas between 2006 and 2008, before making his Super Rugby debut for the Cheetahs in 2008.

He played three games for them before moving to Italy where he signed with Benetton Treviso.

Botes normally plays as a scrumhalf but has also proven adept at flyhalf. In January 2012 he was called up to the Italian squad as cover for the 2012 Six Nations Championship and he has subsequently been selected to play for Italy 22 times.

Cummins, 22, has been described as an exciting young tight forward with great potential.

He captained the Australian Academy U19 side in 2011 and went on to represent Australia in the U20 IRB World Championship the following year.

Botha, 23, joins the Kings after having spent two seasons in France at Montpellier.

Botha represented the Boland Cavaliers at several youth tournaments before joining the Blue Bulls in 2010 before moving to Western Province the following season.

He made his first team debut for Western Province in the 2011 Vodacom Cup against the Falcons.

He played several Vodacom Cup games for WP before appearing off the bench in the 2012 Currie Cup Premier Division game against the Natal Sharks.

The EP Kings will play an international friendly against Wales on Tuesday in their first pre-season warm-up. The game kicks off at 7pm, with tickets available through Computicket and at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium's ticketing office.

After the Wales clash the Kings face the Bulls in a Super Rugby friendly on June 20.

They then come up against the Sharks in another Super Rugby friendly on July 4 before their opening Currie Cup rugby match against Western Province on August 8. - George Byron