Cheetahs, Kings venture into uncharted waters

Deon Davids (Gallo Images)
Deon Davids (Gallo Images)

Cape Town - For some reason, the PRO14 launch took place in Cape Town - not Port Elizabeth or Bloemfontein - on Friday.

And while the general theme of the day was that this was a momentous occasion for world rugby and both the Cheetahs and the Kings, who will join the tournament from this year, there were also some very real concerns coming out of both of those franchise's coaching camps. 

The Cheetahs, the defending Currie Cup champions, will now have their depth tested like never before. 

If they make it through to the Currie Cup final, there will be six fixtures that overlap with the PRO14. 

That will mean two separate squads, with two separate coaching teams, doing battle on the same weekend. 

"We've got a big squad, fortunately, and we've got lots of faith in the squad," Cheetahs forwards coach Corniel van Zyl said at the launch.

"You can't really say it will be an 'A' team or a 'B' team ... anyone who pulls on the jersey will perform to the best of their abilities.

"There has been a lot of planning ... we're going to take it week by week."

Van Zyl said that one of the biggest challenges was in splitting up the coaching staff on matchdays where both the PRO14 and Currie Cup sides are in action. 

"That's a big challenge for us, especially with the away games," he said.

"When we go away first we'll be away for two weeks, so a few of the coaches will stay behind with the Currie Cup team.

"There will be a split ... I don't know at this stage."

Over at the Kings, meanwhile, coach Deon Davids is back where he was at the start of the 2016 Super Rugby season. 

He has lost a bunch of players and has virtually no time to prepare a new group for a new tournament. 

The plan for the Kings over the next couple of weeks is to try and secure the services of a few players on loan to get as close to a competitive squad as they can before their tournament opener away to Welsh club Scarlets, the defending champions.

The Lions have already confirmed that they are on board to help the Kings out, but even with that assistance it is still set to be a tough ask with the Currie Cup First Division getting underway on August 26.

"We know that it's going to be tough at first," Kings coach Deon Davids confessed. 

"Luckily I've been there before. It's going to be tough losing those players and building a new pool."

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