It was confirmed yesterday that Deon Davids, the man responsible for having guided the Southern Kings to their most successful Super Rugby finish to date, has penned a new three-year contract extension with the franchise. This comes in the wake of the build-up to the upcoming Guinness PRO14, which kicks-off next month.
Charl Crous, the Southern Kings Chief Operations Officer, officially announced the appointment yesterday, stating that “[We] are pleased to have retained the services of Deon Davids as head coach for the next three years of our participation in the Guinness PRO14 Championship.”
“Deon has proven himself as a quality coach during his tenure as head coach of the Vodacom Super Rugby competition, which he led with great success. It was important for us after joining a premier competition like the Guinness PRO14 that we have continuity in our management team to ensure we continue to produce the high standard of rugby that we have set ourselves.”
Davids assumed the coaching reins last year, and has been the heartbeat of a Southern Kings side that claimed a record six-wins in Super Rugby this season, including impressive away victories over the Bulls, Jaguares and Waratahs respectively.
The 49-year-old has a tough job on his hands though, in the form of player retention. As many as seven of the Kings’ premier Super Rugby squad members have left the franchise following their axing from the competition in July.
That said, Davids has been working tirelessly to assemble a competitive pool of players before the PRO14 gets underway.
“We’ll be starting this process of putting together a squad all over again. We lost a number of our squad from the Super Rugby campaign, and we are busy putting together a new, competitive squad.
“We have identified a large group of players and we have communicated, through our office, to the different unions regarding the players we would like to be here. The players that have joined us already, are the ones that have been released from their duties at those unions. There are some players whom we are still awaiting the response of their various unions to release them as soon as possible.”
Davids highlighted the importance of creating some stability in the form of long-term player contracts.
“Most of the guys that we have signed now we tried to get for two years so that we do not sit in the same position again – where we will have to scramble for players, and also because Super Rugby is still ongoing while we will be in our off-season preparing for the start of the next season,” he said.
“We would have loved to wait for more players coming off-contract at the end of October, but we would have played eight games up until then, so we will have to prepare sufficiently now to ensure that we have a squad that has depth. I’ll be starting on a clean slate. If a player puts up his hand, I’ll back him.”
The Southern Kings’ opening match will be against the defending champion Scarlets, on September 2 at the Parc y Scarlets in Llanelli, Wales.
Below is the list of the 23-squad members that have committed to the Kings’ upcoming Guinness PRO14 campaign so far:
Berton Klaasen, Bobby de Wee, Cyril-John Velleman, Cornal Hendricks, Dries van Schalkwyk, Jacques Nel, Jarryd Sage, Khaya Majola, Lubabalo Mtyanda, Lusanda Badiyana, Masixole Banda, Ntabeni Dukisa, Oliver Zono, Pieter-Steyn de Wet, Rowan Gouws, Sibusiso Sithole, Schalk Ferreira, Stephan Greeff, Tango Balekile, Tienie Burger, Victor Sekekete, Yaw Penxe and Kurt Coleman.