Kings on recruitment drive for next season

Isuzu Southern Kings interim head coach Robbie Kempson has used the off time during the Covid-19 lockdown to focus on long-term planning to ensure his team have the best chance for success when play finally resumes.
Isuzu Southern Kings interim head coach Robbie Kempson has used the off time during the Covid-19 lockdown to focus on long-term planning to ensure his team have the best chance for success when play finally resumes.
Image: GALLO IMAGES/ SPORTFILE/ RAMSEY CARDY

Intense recruitment activity is going on behind the scenes to ensure the Isuzu Southern Kings rugby franchise are well prepared for next season’s Guinness PRO14.

After the PRO14 was postponed indefinitely because of the Covid-19 pandemic, Kings interim head coach Robbi Kempson has been doing long-term planning for his team.

It is not expected that the Kings will play again in the PRO14 this season, which has allowed Kempson valuable time to plan ahead.

“We have been very busy with recruitment and looking at the various options for the next two years,” he said.

“I have been chatting with agents and keeping up to date with player movements around the globe.

“There is no question that financially worldwide everyone is going to suffer. There will be an initial period of downsizing in all respects regarding the finances, but long-term the game will benefit more.

“Many of the peripheral entities will not be able to sustain the fallout, and the end product will be that the sustainable ones worldwide will produce a much higher and consistent level of professional performance.

“That is more suitable and sustainable for the sport.”

Kempson said the enforced break had given his team an opportunity to regroup and rehabilitate injured players.

“Yes, it has been up until now, but social distancing has prevented treatments of the players by our medical staff until the foreseeable future.

It does give the longer-term injuries more time, and they may be back in time for the start of the next competition with the layoff

“It does give the longer-term injuries more time, and they may be back in time for the start of the next competition with the layoff.”

Asked if he thought it would be a good idea to fast-forward to the semifinals if PRO14 resumed, Kempson said: “I think it would be more prudent for the competition to go straight into the playoff series. This would obviously depend on the time frame.

“If it is more limited, then straight to the semifinal playoffs, but as things stand, perhaps just a final to decide the competition winner for this season.”

Kempson said his players’ safety was his top priority at this time.

“There are so many variables around Covid-19. For me, the most important is the safety of the players, families, and supporters, and I’m sure whatever decisions that will be made from SA Rugby will be for what is in the best interests of the sport and public.

“Realistically, if we look at the world trend around Covid-19, not much can happen for a minimum of three to four months from now, which takes away both Super Rugby and PRO14 from a timing perspective.

“So far, we’ve been doing reviews of each player and positions — statistics and performance indicators.

“The scores of players training in isolation are monitored by fitness coaches Nadus Nieuwoudt and Chad Foong.

“Because of this, we have seen the players maintain a level of ‘off-season’ preparedness.

“Nadus has also been doing a daily video of alternative garage training without weights and been quite inventive with ways in which to maintain a baseline condition set.”

The Kings have not fared well this season, winning only one of their 13 matches and are bottom of Conference B.


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