Southern Kings says it all. They are going to rule the roost at the bottom of the log. But just how badly, for how long and by how much is what we the punters are concerned about. Here’s a look at the Southern Kings Rugby squad and fixtures in a nut shell.
Their squad (as many of their players may come as unknowns to you):
The only major positional issues we have in terms of depth and quality are Prop, Flyhalf, Wing and Fullback.
Prop, the cornerstone of the scrum, first and foremost is guaranteed to be problematic for the Kings. To see out a Super Rugby season you need at least 4 props of top provincial quality and we feel their squad does not come close to offering that. Factor in that experience trumps youth in frontrow ranks every time and we could be in for some scrum related penalties.
At flyhalf the Kings boast the extremely talented Demetri Catrakilis. Hats off to him for leaving the Stormers as 2nd or 3rd string No.10 to be kingpin at the Kings. Would France or Japan have been a better option… only time will tell. Our concern is not at all surrounding his play-making and skill but rather in the event of an unfortunate injury to this future star. Backs don’t often get injured but with the amount of back-foot, under pressure ball he will be receiving this season his body is likely to be THE tackle bag of the tournament wherein lies the question as to whether Wesley Dunlop and George Whitehead are Super Rugby pedigree. They both have it still to prove.
Wing and fullback too are lacking in depth. If fortune favours the brave the Kings may just get away with it but the last thing Eastern Cape rugby needs is an under-strength side where the back 3 offer no resistance as results could then become catastrophic.
We feel that the Kings will be able to hold their own in all other positions throughout the season in a bottom half of the table kind of way. So this leaves you three-quarters of the way through the season with a side that has 4 moderate weak links in the starting 15 (a prop, flyhalf, wing, fullback) surrounded by players that can just hold their own without dominating in their position with a bench that has one or two players for who’s sake you’re hoping don’t take the field. Just how are they going to fare?
The betting says it all. The Southern Kings are really up against it. Do we fancy them in the “to win 3 or less matches” market @ 4/10 – yes, its “solid as concrete.”
Do we fancy them in the “to concede more than 500 points” market @ 5/10 – yes, but we won’t be taking any of it. Don’t forget that the Lions conceded only 460 points last season with all their ongoing sagas surrounding possible relegation, players’ futures etc. not to mention an incredibly high injury toll.
What about the 4/1 on the Southern Kings “to Lose every match?” It’s not impossible but we do have our concerns. First off the Rebels should be stronger than they were last season. The Force are likely to now offer a greater all-round ability even without the fire-power of Sharpe and Pocock. The Blues could turn out to be anything from good to terrible (our pick for NZ conference’s wooden spoon). Then there’s the Cheetahs. Agreed they are stronger on paper than the Kings but by just how much and what effect will injuries have on their squad? Will Goosen see out the season or is his rugby future just not written in the stars? We do feel that the Cheetahs will finish below their 10th place achievement from last season. Another consideration is the weather. We all know that torrential rainfall can level a playing field. If three of the Kings matches are to be played in wet (statistically 2 home games and one away match) will they be that poor that they can’t get up in even one? Possibly the boys from the Eastern Cape offer too much x-factor for this bet to be safe.
Get on the Kings to win 3 or less matches @ 4/10 and enjoy watching them throw everything they have at some of the world’s strongest club sides! Solid as concrete.