He was identified by Rassie Erasmus to take charge of the Southern Kings when SARU took control of the franchise on their return to Super Rugby two years ago and he is the right man to take the Kings forward in the PRO14.
Coach Dean Davids has committed to stay with the Kings as they enter the newly formed PRO14 in September.
He took a team that struggled in the Currie Cup to one that got victories over the Waratahs and Jaguares on tour and collected some South African scalps when they beat the Sharks and the Bulls as well
The Southern Kings also ended higher on the over log than the Bulls and the Cheetahs this year.
Davids had to start from scratch and build not just a team but also a culture in a team who nobody gave a half a change two years ago and he is ready to do it again.
The Kings have lost quality players in their setup due to them being kicked out of Super Rugby. Davids will have to go without players like Malcolm Jaer and Makazole Mapimpi (both Cheetahs), Tyler Paul and Ross Geldenhuys (both Sharks), Chris Cloete (Munster), Lionel Cronjé (Verblitz) and Wilhelm van der Sluys (Exeter Chiefs) have all opted to further their careers elsewhere.
It is not all doom and gloom for the Eastern Cape side as we have seen that the region have produced quality players every time and Davids have been a coach that have always been up for the challenge.
Davids are very optimistic about the challenge as he spoke to SARugbyMag at the launch of the PRO14 in Cape town this week.
‘That’s the agreement, to remain with the side for the next three years, that will give me the chance to put some structures in place and build a team.’
‘We’ve been in this position before,’ he said with a laugh. ‘I guess we will have to do it all again. ‘We’ve retained about 15 players from our original squad. We’ve lost a lot of quality, and will have to act quickly if we’re going to build a new team core.
I will be reaching out to the different franchises to see if any players are available. It’s going to be hard to get players now, though, because so many of them are already contracted and settled at other unions.’
‘We won’t have the luxury of going into the new competition with combinations or momentum.’
Davids with his coaching staff were able to build a team culture among the players similar what Ackermann and De Bruin did at the Lions and in that we know by now that takes a special kind of coach to do it.
Davids has the pedigree to be successful and even one day get a change to coach the Springboks.
He started from humble beginnings and did the hard work before Erasmus saw him two years ago. As a player he played mostly in the Boland Super League as a eight-man, flanker and lock but got his first coaching gig at Boland College who won the title 2002 before he was appointed Hawies Fourie assistant coach at the Boland Cavaliers.
The Cavaliers won the First Division in 2003 and 2004 with the Vodacom Shield in 2004 as well.
Davids got the head coach job at Boland when Fourie left forth Stormers. Davids was also the assistant coach to Sauls for the SA under-20 side who finished third in 2008 World Championship.
Davids left Boland and took over as head coach of university side UWC, as well as joining the youth selection committee of Western Province.
Davids coached UWC in the first ever Varsity Shield competition, helping them to finish in third spot in the 2011 competition, but left during the competition to join the Golden Lions, becoming head coach of their Vodacom Cup side for the 2012 season, as well as coaching the Under-21 side.
At the end of 2012, Davids returned to the Western Cape to join the George-based SWD Eagles as the head coach of their academy, and taking charge of the SWD U21 side.
He remained in that role until 2015, when he also assisted the first team, coached by Bevin Fortuin. When Fortuin left to join the Blue Bulls at the end of the 2015 season, Davids was appointed as the head coach of the SWD Eagles on a three-year contract but within a week of his appointment, the SARU announced that Davids would coach the Port Elizabeth-based Kings Super Rugby franchise in the 2016 .
Davids will have his challenges again in this first year but from what we saw he has done before we can be assure that the Southern Kings will not be a push-over in the PRO14, all he need is time to start over again.