CONGRATULATIONS TO SOUTHERN KINGS

I would like to congratulate the Southern Kings and welcome the news that our Eastern Cape team will definitely play as a new franchise in the 2013 Super 15 competition.

As always, with new opportunities come new responsibilities. Personally I think the biggest responsibility is now on Cheeky Watson to ensure that we don’t go off and spend millions in buying new talent from outside our borders – like the South Sea Islands – to make an impact in this competition.

While I agree that the Kings must now attract the necessary sponsorship to enable them as a franchise to sign up the kind of players that will turn the Kings into a winning team that can compete against the best, I also believe we need to develop home-grown talent.

If we do spend money, we should spend it on getting back the talent we developed right here in the Eastern Cape but lost to other provinces. We don’t have to go into names, but we all know that the Bulls and Stormers have been coining in on our youngsters because we did not offer opportunities at home. We cannot be accused of losing our own talented players anymore. Let’s develop them and keep them here.

The fact that the Kings will play Super Rugby next year, as confirmed by Saru CEO Jury Roux in Parliament is really good news. Not only for the morale of our supporters and province but also for tourism, as supporters from opposing teams will flock here when we get home-games.

While I hear some people say that the Kings will not be strong enough, I urge everybody in the province to support them wholeheartedly. With support and good management the Kings can be the champions of the future.

I would also like to congratulate SA Rugby for its announcement that more than R72 million will be invested this year towards rugby development and transformation initiatives in the country.