You have to pitch up from the outset
New Southern Kings recruit Bandise Maku feels it is vital that the Super Rugby rookies get a few victories under the belt early in their inaugural campaign.
The one-time Springbok hooker, speaking to this website in an exclusive interview, said the men from the Eastern Cape will have to "pitch up" from the outset.
"It is important to start off on a good note, in terms of the confidence of the players," Maku said, when asked what the Kings' prospect of a successful debut is in 2013.
"Also, to be able to take the positives out of the first game and move forward. Our first game is against the Western Force, which will be a very important game for the Kings."
He dismissed the notion that the Perth-based Force would be the ideal start for the Kings because they are not one of the competitions top teams.
"In Super Rugby every team is tough, so you have to pitch up from the outset or you will be on the back foot.
"We all know there are no easy games and we just have to prepare well, have a good off-season and make sure there is good cohesion in the team."
The 26-year-old hooker said the overall strength of the squad is the key for any in Super Rugby.
"If you have a good squad and you are able to pull off a couple of wins you will find yourself in a good position.
"The most important aspect for us is to just get some good off-season training and make sure we get the basics right - the set pieces, game plan, good kicking game and that stuff.
"It is important that we all get on the same page.
"We will need a good off-season build-up and a couple of warm-up games to make sure we get to the Super Rugby season well-prepared."
While most pundits feel the Kings will lack in terms of squad dept, despite some high-profile recruiting in recent weeks, Maku is adamant they will be up for the challenge.
"They [Kings management] are still working on a couple of signings, so we will probably find that out once the squad is finalised."
It has been reported that Springbok centre Waylon Murray looks likely to join the Kings. The 26-year-old Murray, who played three Tests for the Boks in 2007, has become a free agent after his contract with the Lions expired.
Other notable recent signings from the Kings include centre Andries Strauss (Cheetahs), flyhalf Demetri Catrakilis (WP), scrumhalf Nicolas Vergallo (Argentina), utility back Hadleigh Parkes (Blues) and lock Steven Sykes (Sharks).
By Jan de Koning