This versatility was a deciding factor
Southern Kings boss Cheeky Watson has denied that they have breached any regulations by naming five foreigners in a 35-man Super Rugby squad.
It appeared the Kings were heading for a stand-off with the South African Rugby Union over their quota of foreign imports, after the announcement by the Super Rugby newcomers, the Kings, of a squad that featured all five of their foreign imports.
The Eastern Cape franchise, who will make their Super Rugby debut against the Force on February 23, recruited Argentine Test players Tomas Leonardi and Nicolas Vergallo, Kiwi utility back Hadleigh Parkes, French hooker Virgile Lacombe and Kenyan forward Daniel Adongo, and have been in negotiations with SARU to allow all five of them to participate this season.
This decision by the Kings appeared to be in contradiction of a SARU decision last month that the Southern Kings will not be allowed more than the regulation two foreign players.
However, Watson, also the Eastern Province Rugby Union President, said the list of names unveiled on Tuesday is not the franchise's final squad.
"The squad announced today [Tuesday] is the wider squad that has been requested by SANZAR," Watson said in a statement.
"This squad had to be submitted to SANZAR ahead of the official start of the season, in line with their tournament rules and regulations.
"This squad could be reduced further in due course."
While Watson made it clear it is not the final squad, he certainly stopped short of confirming that they will not name all five in their final 30-man squad.
* Meanwhile Kings Director of Rugby Alan Solomons explained the axing of players like Ross Geldenhuys; Siviwe Soyizwapi; Wayne Stevens and Wesley Dunlop.
Former Varsity Cup prop (UCT and Tuks) and current SWD Eagles player Grant Kemp has been called up to bolster the Kings front row.
"Ross [Geldenhuys] has been struggling a little with his form and Grant [Kemp] has been called up in his place," Solomons said.
"Kemp has shown a lot of potential in what we have seen of him.
"There is something there and we feel he deserves the opportunity."
The Kings coaching boss said George Whitehead and Wesley Dunlop are both good players.
"The feeling was that George [Whitehead] was slightly more versatile as he can play both wing and fullback," Solomons said about the absence of Dunlop.
"This versatility was a deciding factor and compliments the squad setup better."
Southern Kings squad:
Forwards: Schalk Ferreira, Jaco Engels, Hannes Franklin, Virgile Lacombe, Bandise Maku, Edgar Marutlulle, Kevin Buys, Grant Kemp, Steven Sykes, David Bullbring, Darron Nell, Rynier Bernardo, Daniel Adongo, Wimpie van der Walt, Mpho Mbiyozo, Tomas Leonardi, Cornell du Preez, Devin Oosthuizen, Luke Watson (captain), Jacques Engelbrecht.
Backs: Shaun Venter, Johan Herbst, Nicolas Vergallo, Demetri Catrakilis, George Whitehead, Andries Strauss, Hadleigh Parkes, Ronnie Cooke, Waylon Murray, Michael Killian, Sergeal Petersen, Marcello Sampson, Siyanda Grey, SP Marais, Elric van Vuuren.
By Jan de Koning