Brave Kings need influx of quality to reign supreme, says coach
Head coach Deon Davids has drawn up a wish list of quality players he wants to sign to transform the Southern Kings into a competitive PRO14 outfit.
Davids said it was also vital that the Kings start building from the base up to ensure progression and continuity in the European competition.
The hastily assembled Kings could win only one of their 21 PRO14 games, and massive changes are needed during the off-season to boost the side.
In their last game of the campaign, an injury-ravaged Kings side produced a fighting display before going down 29-20 against the Cheetahs at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium in Port Elizabeth.
“If we want to go forward in this competition and compete for trophies and playoffs, it is important that we build something up from the base,” Davids said.
“You have to build a sustainable system where players come through the ranks and you progress from one year to the next to ensure that you have good depth that you can fall back onto.
“Our preparation for the last game sums up the challenges that we are sitting with here at the Kings at the moment.
“I am hopeful that we will be able to address the situation – it looked like a hospital here at the stadium before the Cheetahs game.
“All the players who took to the field against the Cheetahs were players who were available, the rest of the players were injured.
“We also could not field three backline reserves as a result of all the injuries.”
The coach said about 17 of the current squad of players would be contracted for next season.
“I am assessing how we go forward, and it is good that we have a base in terms of building some continuity.
“PRO14 showed that in areas we really need to increase our quality and depth.
“If we can do that in partnership with EP Rugby and expand the base it will assist us.
“This week, we will focus on getting our medicals done and will start putting the puzzles together for our new contracted squad.
“Then the guys will take a break for the next month. We will assemble here on July 1 and take it from there.
“I have done some work on contracting new players and I have a wish list, but to ensure that a few things need to happen. I will start moving on that this week.”
The coach said many people overlooked the fact that he lost 50% of his staff after Super Rugby
“People focus on the players we lost after Super Rugby, but I also lost 50% of my staff,” Davids said.
“Our attack coach [Dave Williams] went to the Cheetahs, and we also lost our doctor [Konrad von Hagen] and analyst [Lindsay Weyer] to the Springboks.
“I will have to address that because you have to have quality people around you.
“I am happy with the job people have done, but we can also make a step up.”
After the Kings’ last game against the Cheetahs, it was announced that forwards coach Barend Pieterse was leaving the franchise to link up with the Canon Eagles in Japan.
While the Kings will have a break to regroup, the Cheetahs will continue their quest for PRO14 glory with a semifinal qualifier against Scarlets in Wales on Saturday.
If the Free Staters can overcome that hurdle, they will face Glasgow Warriors in the semifinals at Scotstoun, Glasgow, for a place in the final in Dublin.