Super Rugby
Southern Kings recall two overseas players
March 21, 2013
The Chiefs' Lelia Masaga on the attack against Southern Kings, Super Rugby, Southern Kings v Chiefs, Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium, Port Elizabeth, South Africa, March 15, 2013
The Kings lined up against Lelia Masaga and the Chiefs with too many overseas players © Getty Images

The Southern Kings have recalled an Argentine and a French player from their touring squad in New Zealand as the South African Rugby Union (SARU) investigates the Super 15 newcomers for breaking its rules on foreign players.

Tomas Leonardi and Virgile Lacombe will return to Port Elizabeth, to be replaced by two South Africans for the four-game tour of Australasia, Kings officials said.

Kings president Cheeky Watson has travelled to New Zealand to talk to the players after SARU officials threatened the team with a caution, a fine, a suspension or even expulsion in its debut Super Rugby season if found guilty of fielding too many foreigners in a game against the Chiefs last week.

But Super Rugby chief Greg Peters said on Twitter that SARU did not have the authority to suspend or expel the Kings, as that would affect the whole three-country tournament and only a South African rule had allegedly been broken. Peters' statement leaves the Kings facing a warning or a fine of up to 1 million rand ($A105,000). "[The suspension or expulsion of the Kings] can only be done by us and it is not our rules that have allegedly been breached," Peters, the chief executive of Super 15 organiser SANZAR, tweeted.

Leonardi, fellow Argentine Nicolas Vergallo and New Zealander Hadleigh Parkes were in the Kings' matchday squad for the home loss to the Chiefs in round five, and all played some part in the game. South African teams are allowed to play only two foreign players per game, according to contracts they sign with the national union.

The Kings play seven-time Super Rugby champions the Crusaders - the competition's most successful team - on Saturday.

SARU chief executive Jurie Roux has told South African media he hopes the investigation will be concluded next week.

The Kings showed great tenacity against the Chiefs in Port Elizabeth

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