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Southern Kings

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Southern Kings and Toyota Cheetahs are set for September start up north

It is understood a deal to expand the Pro12 to 14 teams from next season has been agreed.

The South African sides Toyota Cheetahs and Southern Kings will join the league after losing their Super Rugby status.

The 6-year deal is likely to benefit the league to the tune of an extra £6m per season from the South African Rugby Union and additional television income.

All elements of the deal have been agreed and, once legally ratified, could be formally announced next week.

The new Pro14 league will kick-off in the first week of September and will comprise 2 conferences of 7 teams. Each conference will have 1 Scottish side, 1 South African side, 1 Italian side and 2 each from Wales and Ireland.

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Southern KingsSouthern Kings head coach Deon Davids included the returning Edgar Marutlulle and Sti Sithole in his 25-man touring squad for their trip to Argentina this weekend to face the Jaguares.

The presence of the front row duo is a welcome boost to team after both missed out on the match against the Emirates Lions last week due to injury.

Stefan Willemse, who has played at both lock and flank, is also part of the touring squad, along with No 8 Aidon Davis.

Davids also announced that backline players Elgar Watts and Jaco van Tonder would be part of the touring squad.

“At fullback we have Jaco van Tonder, we know he can play at No 15 and hasn’t had a chance to start there yet this year, and Leighton Eksteen, who can come in as a backup,” said Davids.

“We felt that, at this point of time, we want to give Jaco a chance and see how he is doing.”

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Super RugbyJust how the revised Super Rugby format will go down with the South African rugby public is unclear, but we won’t have to wait long to find out.

The new-look tournament gets underway in less than a month, with the Blues and the Highlanders kicking things off in Auckland on Friday 26 February 2016.

From a South African perspective, the road ahead looks a tough one and if local bookmakers are to be believed there is no standout side from within these borders that looks set to challenge for the title.

Outside of the tournament changes, the majority of the South African franchises have also undergone major alterations with only 2wo sides – the Cell C Sharks and Emirates Lions – heading into 2016 with the same coaches that did the business in 2015.

The Southern Kings, obviously, were not a part of the 2015 competition but they also have a new man at the helm.

Here, we look at the 6 men tasked with bringing success to their respective franchises:

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Cheeky Watson

Cheeky Watson

Embattled Eastern Province Rugby Union President Cheeky Watson has had the first set of legal documents served on him.

The players organisation, MyPlayers, confirmed that an Application for Liquidation was brought – through their trade union SARPA – against the EP Rugby (Pty) Ltd.

This move comes after lengthy consultations with the various stakeholders concerned as well as the exploration of all legal options available.

It follows in the wake of confirmation that EP Rugby last week reached an agreement with 18 players (who did not receive Super Rugby contracts) over outstanding salaries.

EP Rugby needs to come up with 5 Million Rand by Sunday 31 January, or they will also face a Liquidation Application from the lawyer of the aforementioned players – Craig Jessop, a labour lawyer working for the firm Brown Braude and Vlok.

This move forced MyPlayers and SARPA’s hand.

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Philip du Preez

Philip du Preez

Former South African Schools lock Philip du Preez is 1 of 3 new signings by the Southern Kings.

The Southern Kings, who will return to Super Rugby next month after a 3-year absence, confirmed the singing of the young up and coming lock, Philip du Preez (22), versatile backline player Jurgen Visser (26) and seasoned hooker Martin Bezuidenhout (26).

Kings Chief Operating Officer Charl Crous also confirmed that Sharks player Jaco van Tonder (24) has joined the team on trial this week.

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