2017 Team Preview: Southern Kings

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It was a tough introduction to Investec Super Rugby for the Kings in 2016, but can they do better this year?

Home: Port Elizabeth
Last season: 17

Squad:
Johann Tromp, Chrysander Antonio Botha, Ntabeni Dukisa, Yaw Penxe, Siyanda Grey, Alshuan Bock, Makazole Mapimpi, Malcom Jaer, Wandile Mjekevu, Waylon Michael Murray, Berton Klaasen, Neil Kobus Maritz, Luzuko Vulindlu, Pieter-Steyn de Wet, Garrick Frederick Mattheus, Lionel Cronje, Masixole Banda, Louis Schreuder, Rick Schroeder, Johannes Hermanus Steyn, Rudi van Rooyen, Ruaan Stephen Lerm, Christiaan Pieter de Bruin, Stefan Willemse, Cyril–John Velleman, Tyler Warne Paul, Thembelani Bholi, Andisa Ntsila, Christopher Anthony Cloete, Cameron Lindsay, Sintu Manjezi, Irne Philip Herbst, Wandile Putuma, Mzwanele Zito, Martin Bezuidenhout, Michael Willemse, Tango Balekile, Kurt Stanley Haupt, Justin Forwood, Schalk Jacobus Petrus Ferreira, Chris Heiberg, Schalk van der Merwe, Ross Geldenhuys, Dayan van der Westhuizen

Game Breaker:

On loan from the Sharks, Wandile Mjekevu will provide the Kings with a genuine line breaker. Able to cover either wing or centre, Mjekevu has size, pace and superb handling skills. After being identified as a schoolboy star, Mjekevu hasn’t prospered at the top level like many would have thought. A switch to the Kings could be just the tonic for Mjekevu to showcase his skills on the big stage.

Key signing:
After a number of impressive seasons playing for the Highlanders in Super Rugby and Tasman in the Mitre 10 Cup, imposing prop Ross Geldenhuys is returning home to South Africa. Geldenhuys will bolster a Kings front row that is missing a few of its key performers from last season. At 33-years-old, Geldenhuys is a true veteran and will be better for the few seasons he has spent in the New Zealand scene.

Tall timber:

Lock Irne Herbst has built a reputation as one of the toughest customers at Currie Cup level and will be desperate to ensure the Kings don’t take a step back. At 120kg and 6 foot 6, Herbst is an imposing specimen who likes to throw his body into contact and run hard with the ball in hand. The Kings will need Herbst’s energy and lineout acumen if they are to compete with the better forward packs in the competition.

The Scoop:
The Kings struggled in 2016 and have a lost a lot of personnel over the offseason. A number of smart signings have offset the losses but the Kings will need to play to their full potential if they are to improve on their 17th spot from last season.


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