The Southern Kings, South Africa’s newest franchise, will be competitive when they face the British and Irish Lions in Port Elizabeth on June 16.
The Kings’ selection chief, Francois Davids, told rugby365.com that the team will be finalised on Friday, but declined to reveal any of the names.
He also would not entertain any media speculation about the make-up of the side, despite Eastern Cape publications suggesting that former Grey High School and England utility back Michael Catt could be amongst those facing the touring Lions.
“We want to ensure we field a competitive team, we saw what happened [to the Golden Lions] on Wednesday,” Davids said.
He was, of course, referring to the Golden Lions 10-74 capitulation against the tourists in Johannesburg.
Ironically the same Johannesburg-based franchise is one if the Kings’ main rivals for a spot in an expanded Super Rugby competition from 2011.
If, as seems likely, the 15th franchise is Australian, it will means the Kings will compete with dysfunctional local outfits like the Lions (the Johannesburg-based team’s name in the Super 14) and the Cheetahs. They finished 12th and 14th respectively in the Super 14 this year and they also finished 13th and 14th the previous season.
But for now the Kings are focussing on their launch, with the match against the B&I Lions on June 16, before going out to prove they are worthy of a spot in an expanded Super Rugby tournament.
According to reports Border Bulldogs flank Solly Tyibilika will captain the Southern Kings in their June 16 launch match against the touring Lions.
And of course there is the name of the veteran England international Catt, currently in Australia with the Barbarians ahead of their match against the Wallabies in Sydney on Saturday. The 37-year-old Catt, who has put his retirement on hold, is with the BaaBaas as a player/coach.
Other players on Kings coach Alan Solomons’s wish-list include internationals like Springbok midfielder De Wet Barry (recently released from Harlequins), Bok scrumhalf Neil de Kock (Saracens), Bok prop Daan Human (Toulouse), Bok hooker Hanyani Shimange (Western Province) and Bok prop BJ Botha (Ulster).
And high-profile non-internationals on the same wish-list are Blue Bulls fullback Tiger Mangweni, Rudi Coetzee (Bourgoin), Wylie Human (Stormers), Ross Skeate (Toulon) and Bok Sevens star Mpho Mbiyozo.
However, Davids would not confirm any of those names and said he will reveal the Kings’ make-up on Friday.
By Jan de KoningTweet