'Greek God' Demetri Catrakilis to cost R3.5m
New Southern Kings owners will have to dig deep
If the Isuzu Southern Kings want to bring ace goal kicker Demetri Catrakilis back to Port Elizabeth from top English team Harlequins they will have to fork out at least R3.5m.
The former Kings star is known to be on the Kings’ wish list as the team’s new owners bid to inject new life into the ailing team.
Insiders have put a figure on what Catrakilis will be looking for if he makes the move from London to Port Elizabeth.
He made his Super Rugby debut when the Kings played their first match in the Super Rugby competition against the Western Force in Port Elizabeth in 2013
Catrakilis, known as “Greek God”, scored four penalties in the Kings’ famous 22-10 victory over the Force.
He remained the first-choice flyhalf for the Kings for the duration of the 2013 Super Rugby season, making 14 appearances in the competition and scoring 37 penalties, 14 conversions and a drop goal to finish with a tally of 142 points.
Catrakilis was largely responsible for helping the Kings to two away victories in their maiden season.
As speculation mounts as to possible new signings, there are also fears, hopefully misguided, a newly forged partnership between the Kings and French giants Toulon will trigger an exodus of the Eastern Cape’s brightest young talent.
Fans are hoping the Kings have not sold their souls for a pot of euros after the announcement they had climbed into bed with the French side.
The optimists believe it will be a win-win situation for both parties, while others suggest there will be only one winner in this marriage.
Because of the strength of the euro, critics of the deal say Toulon will hold all the bargaining chips.
No less a figure than former World Cup-winning hero Joel Stransky raised fears on a television show with Kings high-performance director Robbi Kempson.
Addressing Kempson, Stransky said: “One word of warning – if you in some way facilitate an exodus of South African players in this relationship, we are all going to slap you around the head.”
On the show, Kempson allayed fears of an exodus and said the marriage would bolster the Kings: “I think the announcement is slightly premature,” he said.
“It is to try and form a relationship with them. Potentially giving their players game time for the Southern Kings in the PRO14 if they are coming back from injury or if they need games throughout the season.
“The actual detail around that needs to be discussed at length with all the partners that are involved. There is a still a lot of water that needs to flow under that bridge.”
Asked if some South African players would be going to France, Kempson said: “It is potentially about bringing our [South African] players back to play in the competition [PRO14], because the PRO14 does not overlap with the Top14.
“They can bolster what we have at the Southern Kings and ensure that we are much more competitive going forward.”
Others have questioned why the former European champions are hanging out with the struggling Kings.
Kings chief operating officer Charl Crous said the intention was not to become a feeder team for Toulon.
“We will decide in terms of the players we want and negotiate that with Toulon from our side,” Crous said.
“For us to just become a feeder for Toulon is not the intention of this agreement.
“We are looking to be able to get the quality of player that currently you cannot just go out and contract,” he said.
The Kings, who played against the Ospreys on Friday, will play their final game of the season against the Cheetahs in Bloemfontein on April 27.
Then they will be planning for what promises to be the most eventful season in their history.
With or without Catrakilis’s booming boot.