Southern Kings preview 2013
By Tony Curtis - Follow me on Twitter @SkysportsTC. Last Updated: 12/02/13 9:37am
It has been a long fight for the Southern Kings to secure their place in Super Rugby - but the biggest battle could be for them to stay there.
The Kings played their first game against the British and Irish Lions four years ago however there has been plenty of political wrangling to see the Eastern Cape franchise join the competition.
Super Rugby returns
With SANZAR rejecting the notion of a sixth South African franchise, the Lions have had to make way to accommodate the Kings. However there will be a promotion-relegation clash at the end of the season between the Lions and the bottom side in the South African Conference.
Unfortunately that is likely to be the Kings - with the Force and the Rebels examples of how hard that first season in the competition can be. The Rebels managed just three wins in their debut season despite piecing together a squad containing the likes of Stirling Mortlock, Gareth Delve, Danny Cipriani, Laurie Weeks, Mark Gerrard, Greg Somerville and Michael Lipman.
The Kings have not been granted the luxury of bringing in extra overseas players, while the fact their stay in the competition could only be brief has hampered their recruitment.
They do have the controversial Luke Watson and former Leinster and Sharks lock Steven Sykes among their ranks, while French hooker Virgile Lacombe and Argentine fly-half Nicolas Vergalo have arrived from the Top 14, however director of rugby Alan Solomons will have to rely largely on players from the Currie Cup and their own academy.