The Cheetahs say the feel 'cheated' after it was revealed they will not be facing the Kings, but a Border Bulldogs/SWD Eagles combination in their pre-season match on Saturday.
It was confirmed on Wednesday that there will be no players from the EP Kings in the team that will meet the Cheetahs in East London on Saturday - with the bulk of the starting XV made up by the Bulldogs and a few Eagles making up the numbers.
The EP Kings, Bulldogs and SWD are supposed to combine to form the Southern Kings - a franchise keen on gaining entry into Super Rugby in 2013.
As part of the process to 'prepare' the Kings for Super Rugby, the five current South African franchises - the Stormers, Bulls, Sharks, Lions and Cheetahs - are obliged to play the Kings before the competition gets underway next month.
However, the Cheetahs - who have named a near full-strength selection - will face a very diluted team on Saturday.
It is a move that has not pleased the Cheetahs management.
"We would have liked to have faced the Kings' A-Team ... instead we are facing a Bulldogs/SWD combination," Cheetahs backline coach Hawies Fourie told this website - adding that they are fielding all their fist-choice players who are fit and available.
"It is disappointing, as we go to the trouble of going out there to play this game and then we don't even face the Kings," Fourie said, adding: "It takes away a lot of the logic of playing these games.
"We are being forced to play against these teams and then we end up facing a second-string team ... it doesn't make much sense, but there is nothing we can do about it."
Fourie revealed that the players who don't play this weekend will be involved in a game with the Griffons in Welkom next Tuesday. The following Saturday they face the Stormers in Cape Town and a week later they take on the Bulls with two teams - the Friday night at Loftus Versfeld their our second string selection will face a similar Bulls team and the Saturday in Polokwane their first-choice players will tackle the Bulls' A-Team.
The Cheetahs' backline guru confirmed that it was a conscious decision to have a more brutal build-up to the start of the season than they have had in the past.
"We have always made a slow start to the season," Fourie said, adding: "And that is very important to us.
"We decided to risk it, as there is the prospect of more pre-season injuries.
"However, we have never been properly prepared at the start of the season and we only managed to find the right combinations after four to six weeks, then only started winning.
"We feel that if we want to make an impact on the competition we have to hit the ground running and be up for it from the outset."
By Jan de Koning
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