Bok dream drove Maku to PE
While there were other offers on the table, Bandise Maku feels the Kings offer him the best prospect of fulfilling the ambition of adding to his Springbok cap.
While there were other offers on the table, Bandise Maku feels the Southern Kings offer him the best prospect of fulfilling the ambition of adding to his solitary Springbok cap.
Maku, in an exclusive interview with this website, revealed that he had actually signed with the Kings a couple of weeks ago.
That came after he initially denied, on the social network Twitter, that it was a done deal - when the Kings unveiled the Bok hooker as one of their major signings last month.
"No final decision has yet been made on my future," Maku said on the social network Twitter back in early October.
However, Maku was this week among the first of a batch of new Southern Kings signings who arrived in Port Elizabeth to complete pre-season paperwork and undergo medical examinations.
Centre Andries Strauss (Free State Cheetahs), lock Steven Sykes (Sharks), scrumhalf Shaun Venter (Pumas) and Maku (Lions) all attended a briefing in PE on Monday.
"I signed a couple of weeks ago, actually," Maku told this website, when asked when the deal was formalised.
"I went to PE [Port Elizabeth] this week just to make sure everything is fine and it is all in order."
He said when he the Kings first unveiled him last month, the deal wasn't confirmed then, because there were "a few other offers and I had not made my mind up at that time".
Asked why he opted to play for the Kings, he said it is the prospect of a regular starting spot in a Super Rugby team, which will enhance his prospects of getting back into the Springbok selection frame.
"Having missed out [on Super Rugby], being injured this year, obviously I am still very ambitious in terms of playing Super Rugby," Maku told this website.
"Any player's dream is to play for the Boks, and I am no different."
He said the key for him is to now get back to full fitness and have a good off-season with the Kings.
Maku said he last spoke to Bok coach Heyneke Meyer during the pre-season camps that were held with the various Super Rugby franchises earlier this year.
He said Meyer gave him a good idea of what is required to be in the Bok frame.
For now he will work on the pre-season programme handed to him by the Kings' coaching staff this week.
"I went there on Monday, they gave us our training programme and I was able to see the facilities and everything," he said, adding: "We [the Kings] only officially start training on November 19."
He described his time at the Lions as "awesome".
"In the two years that I was there I was able to play Super Rugby and also win the Currie Cup [competition, in 2011].
"From my side, I hope I added value to the team.
"I formed a great relationship with the players and management and I leave on a good footing."
Maku feels is has fully recovered from the shoulder injury and other niggles that troubled him this year.
"Now I just want to get in some good off-season training and get myself in good nick, to be able to do well in Super Rugby."
Maku, who was born in King William's Town and attended Dale College, represented Border at the 2004 Craven Week, before moving to the Bulls - where he made almost 80 Currie Cup and Super Rugby appearances.
He joined the Lions for the 2011 Super Rugby season, where he started in 14 games. He also played in the Currie Cup competition for the Lions, where he was a key member of the line-up which defeated the Sharks 42-16 to win the 2011 Currie Cup Final.
He sat out the entire 2011 Super Rugby season, after undergoing shoulder surgery.
He made his Bok debut against Italy in November 2009 and while Maku was again called up for duty for the Springboks' 2010 year-end tour, he did not add to that solitary Test cap.
* Meanwhile it was also confirmed this week that Western Province's match-winning flyhalf Demetri Catrakilis will also join the Kings later this month, despite a last minute plea from WP coach Allister Coetzee to keep him in Cape Town.
“I'm excited, I made the decision wanted to go to the Kings a while ago and I've now stuck to it. It's a new challenge and I'm excited to prove myself in Super Rugby,” Catrakilis told EWNSport.
The player added that seeing the effect the Currie Cup victory had on Cape Town was “surreal” but that it didn't change his mind on his decision.
* In other news it was reported that New Zealand prop Clint Newland and Samoan wing Paul Perez are heading abroad and won't feature in the 2013 squad.
French club Toulouse also announced that it had released Argentina scrumhalf Nicolas Vergallo from his contract, which was supposed to end in 2014. This freed him up to sign with the Port Elizabeth-based Super Rugby franchise.
He played for Jockey Club de Rosario in Argentina between 2004 and 2008. He then moved to France, where he played for Dax, making 47 appearances, then signed for Toulouse in 2010.
Vergallo has been playing as first choice Argentine scrumhalf during the Rugby Championship and has 30 Test caps to his name.
Another piece of the Kings puzzle comes in the form of versatile Blues back Hadleigh Parkes. Parkes partnered Ma'a Nonu in the midfield during the Blues' 2012 season, he also started a few games at fullback. He has 13 Blues caps to his name and also captain Auckland at times in the just completed NPC season.
By Jan de Koning