As the Southern Kings lick their wounds after their narrow exit from Vodacom Super Rugby they will now face a massive exit as players and coaches look to greener pastures both locally and abroad.
EP Kings president Cheeky Watson has played down the exit, focusing on the glass-half-full scenario, but up to 10 Kings players are likely to announce moves to other franchises and abroad in the next few days.
What is worse for the Kings, a number of players won’t even wait until the end of the season and will join other provinces for the Absa Currie Cup, striking a blow to the Kings’ hopes of winning promotion to the A-section of the domestic competition in October.
The move will be started by the Bulls’ announcement in the next day or so that a quartet of Super Rugby players will join their ranks immediately.
These four players – Boks Waylon Murray, Bandise Maku and stars Jacques Engelbrecht and David Bulbring – have agreements to join the Bulls, but had to wait until a clause in their contracts releasing them once the Kings were out of Super Rugby kicked in.
While the Bulls are also set on signing former Lions hooker Callie Visagie, who was with them on loan during the Super Rugby season, and some close to the union say the player has already signed, it may put a spanner in the works regarding Maku’s contractual negotiations with the Union. Maku came through the Bulls’ junior ranks before moving to the Kings to get more game time.
Other than the quartet, tighthead prop Kevin Buys is heading for Brive in France to continue his career and mobile loosehead prop Schalk Ferreira is in talks with the Lions to make a move there.
Impressive scrumhalf Shaun Venter will return to the Pumas for the Currie Cup, but is in talks with the Cheetahs to make a move to Bloemfontein for next year’s Vodacom Super Rugby competition to replace Piet van Zyl, who was recently snapped up by the Bulls.
Fullback SP Marais is another player in the Cheetahs’ sights, while back-up flyhalf Wesley Dunlop has signed for French club Carcasonne for the upcoming season.
There is no word on the future of prodigy Sergeal Peterson though, although a number of franchises are apparently keen to sign him, but the real dogfight seems to be over flyhalf Dimitri Catrakilis, who must make a decision this week about his future.
Catrakilis has offers from Western Province and the Blue Bulls, but apparently the sticking point on him returning to Cape Town is game time, as Gary van Aswegen is seemingly rated above him by the coaching staff.
The Cheetahs have also made enquiries, but it seems they may lose out in a fight for his services with the bigger-spending provinces.
The prospects of the Kings keeping Pumas halfback Nicholas Vergallo and Kiwi Hadleigh Parkes with no Super Rugby action to offer, also seem slim.
The Kings have also lost their director of rugby Allan Solomons to Edinburgh and now the news is that top defensive coach Omar Mouneimne will join Solomons in Edinburgh. They recently lost assistant coach Brad Moore, who returned home for personal reasons but head coach Matt Sexton is said to be staying on.
In related news, it seems the Lions have snapped up lock Martin Muller from the Free State and that Lionel Cronje, who is on loan to the Lions from the Bulls, is negotiating a move to the Cheetahs for Currie Cup action.