Fit for a King
The Kings have been working hard on their fitness ahead of what they know will be a gruelling debut Super Rugby season next year.
The Eastern Cape franchise will have to hit the ground running in Super Rugby, with the bottom-placed South African team required to take on the Lions in a promotion/relegation clash at the end of the season, so there has already been some serious blood, sweat and tears shed in Port Elizabeth during their fitness training.
Kings Director of rugby Alan Solomons has assembled an enlarged 51-man squad in order to take a look at all of his options ahead of their new challenge which will require significant depth.
He told this website: "We have brought in some guys from the region as a whole and we are working with an extended squad at the moment.
"I think you end up using a lot more players, so having the guys involved in a wider training squad initially is ultimately going to be beneficial," said Solomons.
Solomons explained that fitness has been their priority thus far, with the technical details set to be the focus after the Christmas break.
"We break on December 22 for a week, and the focus until then will be on fitness. The players got here on November 19 and were tested on the 20th.
"Johan Pretorius is our strength and conditioning trainer, he comes to us from the Sports Science Institute. He has worked previously with the SA Under-20 side and also the Cape Cobras cricket side, and we have also brought in Steve McIntyre, who was the strength and conditioning trainer for the World Cup Springboks in 2007 as a consultant until February.
"There is a lot of hard work going in, we appreciate that we have got a lot of hard work ahead of us so we have got to work very hard," he said.
Solomons said that there is an air of excitement amongst the squad, as they compete for places in the squad for the Kings' introduction to Super Rugby.
"It is the start of something completely fresh and new, although the Southern Kings played against the British and Irish Lions in 2009, and we played in the guise of the SA Kings at the Nations Cup which we won and then those pre-season friendlies, but we have never been in a competition like we are now.
"Obviously there are certain fundamentals which we have built up at the Kings over a period and those remain in place," he said.
Southern Kings wider training squad: Rynier Bernardo, David Bullbring, Boetie Britz, Kevin Buys, Charl Du Plessis, Cornell Du Preez, Armand Du Preez, Jacques Engelbrecht, Jaco Engels, Schalk Ferreira, Samora Fihlani, Hannes Franklin, Ross Geldenhuys, Lizo Gqoboka, Tomas Leonardi, Bandise Maku, Thabo Mamojele, Edgar Marutlulle, Mpho Mbiyozo, Darron Nell, Devin Oosthuizen, Steven Sykes, Wimpie van der Walt, Wayne van Heerden, Luke Watson, Demetri Catrakillis, Ronnie Cooke, Ntabeni Dukisa, Wesley Dunlop, Burton Francis, Shane Gates, Siyanda Grey, Johan Herbst, Michael Killian, Tiger Mangweni, SP Marais, Scott Mathie, Waylon Murray, Norman Nelson, Hadleigh Parkes, Sergeal Petersen, Marcello Sampson, Siviwe Soyizwapi, Wayne Stevens, Mzwandile Stick, Andries Strauss, Scott van Breda, Elrich van Vuuren, Shaun Venter, Nicolas Vergallo, George Whitehead.
By Michael de Vries