Winnaar impresses Kings coach
Flyhalf grabs opportunity to shine in Bloemfontein
Isuzu Southern Kings coach Deon Davids has given new flyhalf Courtney Winnaar a thumbs up after promising debut in losing cause against the Cheetahs in Bloemfontein.
It was hardly the ideal circumstances for Winnaar as his team were on the back foot for most of the match as the Cheetahs romped to a 61-25 win at the Free State Stadium.
Apart from a few telling runs, Winnaar set up the Kings’ third try with a neat cross kick which allowed Bjorn Basson to go over in the 51st minute as the Kings fought to stay in the contest.
“Part of the reason for Courtney’s inclusion was it was the last game of the season,” Davids said.
“He arrived in Port Elizabeth two weeks ago and we wanted to see how he would adapt at PRO14 level.
"In my opinion he did some good stuff even though he did not get the go forward ball we wanted because we were put under pressure at the set piece.
“Courtney is a utility player and he can slot in anywhere in the backline. For a guy playing in his first game you could see he tried to express himself and he had a decent game.”
The 22-year-old East London-born Winnaar is a graduate of the old EP Academy which was run under the auspices of current Kings Director of High Performance, Robbi Kempson.
Winnaar then joined the Sharks in Durban in 2017, where he plied his trade until returning to Port Elizabeth.
The Kings are well served at No 10 with Bader Pretorius also making an impression after his arrival during the course of the season.
There is also speculation that the Kings are trying to lure former Kings pivot Demetri Catrakilis back to Port Elizabeth to add extra experience to the side.
It had been said it will cost the Kings as much as R3.5 to lure the No 10 back to South Africa from England where he is playing for Harlequins.
It has also been announced that Jerry Sexton, a highly rated lock, will be joining the Kings from July 1 until June 2022.
The 26-year-old Sexton is one of the first new signings for the Kings, who are implementing an ambitious recruitment strategy that aims to attract high-potential talent.
The 118kg, 1.95m tall second-rower will be a notable recruit for the Kings, where he will add firepower to the forwards pack.
Sexton is captain of Jersey Reds, who compete in the English Greene King IPA Championship, and is regarded as one of the top performers in the championship.
A mass clearout of players is on the cards as the new owners of the Kings prepare to give their team a radical overhaul.
It is believed that as many as 20 players will be shown the door, as the Kings attempt to improve their dreadful record in the PRO14.
This season the Kings have won only two of their 21 games and ended bottom PRO14 Conference B table.
The Kings have 49 players on their books, and many are expected to be considered surplus to requirements.
It is believed that money saved from fewer players will be used to fund the arrival of new players.