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Naka Drotske

Naka Drotske

The Toyota Cheetahs todat announced that Naka Drotske has will step down as Toyota Cheetahs Super Rugby coach at the end of this Super Rugby Season in order to persue business interests.

In addition, scrum coach Os du Randt has indicated that he will also be leaving the Cheetahs to go overseas and to persue coaching career opportunities abroad after completing his stint in Super Rugby this year. The whereabouts of his overseas tenure has not been made known yet.

But that’s not all, folks, Hawies Fourie, the Toyota Cheetahs backline coach wil also return to GWK Griquas to take up the Head Coaching position at the end of Super Rugby.

Franco Smith, who was named the Toyota Free State Cheetahs Currie Cup coach for 2015 earlier this week, will take up the position as Super Rugby head coach at the Toyota Cheetahs in the place of Naka Drotske.


Naka Drotske:

Long-standing Cheetahs coach Naka Drotské has decided to retired from the sport.

After 8 years as head coach of the Cheetahs, Drotské announced on Friday that he will step down after the current Super Rugby competition.

In a statement the franchise said Drotské will be remembered as “one of the biggest legends” of Free State and the Cheetah in the 120-year existence of the union.

He served Free State as a player, coach and administrator in a period of just over 2 decades.

Drotské managed to achieve a unique achievement of winning the Currie Cup as a player and captain, as team manager and coach during the period from 2005 to 2007.

He was also part of the Springbok squad that won the World Cup in 1995 in Ellis Park.

As coach in 2013 he lead the Cheetahs to the play-offs of both the Currie Cup and Super Rugby competitions – a 1st for the Cheetahs.

Drotské coached the Free State Cheetahs in 90 Currie Cup and 114 Super Rugby games to date.

14 Players became Springboks under Drotské.

The Managing Director of the Free State Cheetahs (Pty) Ltd, Harold Verster, was full of praise for Drotské.

“Naka and I had a long and pleasant road,” Verster said.

“I know him since his school days, where he played top rugby. He is a strong leader and a wise man. I wish him and his family only the best for the road ahead and look forward to his support of the Cheetahs.

“Naka played a very big and expert role in player contracting. With a limited budget he managed to recruit top players and Springboks.”


Open Letter to Cheetahs supporters:

“It is with great thankfulness that I wish to inform you today that this current Super 15 will be my last as coach of the Cheetahs.

“Life is all about opportunities and in March of this year I came along an exceptional business opportunity which I could not turn down. I am partner of a Company who obtained the exclusive manufacturing and distribution rights in Africa of a very unique fire retardant and fire extinguishing product.

“The products are the most technical advanced fire products in the world and are currently patent pending in the USA. We are busy setting up a plant in South Africa and will produce the products locally and will also export worldwide. We believe that this product will change the way fires were prevented and extinguished in the past.

“I have already, after I’ve signed these contracts in April informed Mr Ryno Opperman the chairman of the Cheetahs that this Super 15 will be my last as coach of the Cheetahs.

“It is not ideal to make this announcement in the middle of the current Super 15 season but unfortunately some of the information leaked to the media and the wrong message based on sensation and lies were sent out to the public. This left us with no choice but to make the announcement as early as possible with the correct facts.

“The advantage of the announcement now is it will give the new coach more than enough time to contract his own players for next year and also to sign more players for the upcoming 2015 Currie cup.

“I apologise to my players and management that I could not discuss the situation with them first and that they have to learn about this in the media. We are currently in a bye week and I will explain the situation to them in person when we get together on Monday.

“I’ve been involved in rugby since I can remember and would like to stay involved with the game in some way. I currently consider the option of becoming a player agent to represent players in South Africa.

“In my time as coach of the Cheetahs I have represented the Cheetahs in negotiating more than 300 players’ contracts with all different agents in South Africa. I know the system and this comes naturally to me. I also know all the CEOs and coaches of other franchises in South Africa in person and as a former Super 15 coach I believe they will trust my opinion on the quality of different players.

“I feel there is huge opportunity here as especially younger players often get the wrong advice and make wrong choices with their careers as professional rugby players.

“I would like to thank the Cheetahs. With the exemption of three years when I played in the UK I have been involved with Cheetah rugby since 1988 as a Craven Week player.

Highlights were the 2005 Currie Cup win at Loftus against a very good Bulls side as well as making the play offs of the Super 15 competition in 2013 for the first and only time in the history of Cheetahs rugby.

“I have no regrets and am thankful to the Cheetahs and rugby for what it meant to me. As coach I have learnt valuable lessons of people which will help me a lot in the business world.

“I would have liked to have the opportunity to compete with the same squad of players and the same budget as other franchises over a five-year term. The fact of the matter is this was not meant to be.

“My wish for the future of Cheetahs rugby would be that the public will support the new coach and management team. Super 15 is a very tough competition where a franchise like the Cheetahs have to compete with limited resources. In order for them to be competitive, the supporters, players, management and board of directors all have to support each other and work in the same direction.

“I would like to thank my management team for all the hard work the last nine years. Thank you that we could support each other in good and bad times.

“Lastly I would like to thank my wife Marzanne for all the support. I truly believe that coaching is the second toughest job in the world. The toughest job is without a doubt being the wife of a professional rugby coach. Thank you for supporting me in good and bad results on the rugby field.

“Good luck to Cheetah rugby and the new coach. My advice to him would be to take criticism from who it comes. Since I was a little boy one of my biggest heroes was Dr Danie Craven. One of his legendary sayings was ‘the more I see of people the more I love my dog’ I could never really understand the true meaning of this, until I started coaching. My immediate advice to the new coach would therefore be, get a dog. (-:

“Thank you very much.”

Naka Drotske


Os du Randt:

Double World Cup-winning former Springbok prop Os du Randt has become the latest South African to look for career opportunities abroad.

Du Randt, who has been forwards coach with the Toyota Cheetahs has accepted a “very exciting” opportunity to coach abroad and to be an ambassador for the Cheetahs.

In a statement issued on Friday the Cheetahs said he will complete the 2015 Super Rugby season with the Cheetahs before he departs.

A media conference is scheduled for Monday 25 May to announce details surrounding his move.


Franco Smith:

Franco Smith has officially been named Cheetahs Super Rugby coach from the 2016 season. Smith was earlier also appointed as the Free State Cheetahs’ Currie Cup coach.

Smith’s operations for the 2016 Super Rugby tournament will start on November 1 this year. He is appointed for a 4-year term.

Smith will also be a member of Free State Rugby‘s Coaching and Rugby Committees and will have the privilege to appoint his assistant coaches and team management for the different competitions.

He is already an experienced coach and was part of the Cheetahs coaching and management team who won the Currie Cup in 2005 and 2006.

Smith boasts experience as a European coach with Treviso in Italy where he coached the team to 3 consecutive Italian championship victories and qualifying and participating in the Heineken Cup (European Champions Cup) competition.

Smith also led Shimlas to their 1st ever Varsity Cup championship in 2015.

Smith is a son of the Free State who made his mark as a player when he represented South Africa in 18 matches and 9 Test matches. He further represented Free State, Griquas, Blue Bulls and Pumas in the Currie Cup and also the Bulls at Super Rugby level.

“We wish Franco Smith the best of luck with his new role and look forward to a new era in Cheetah Rugby with Franco and his coaching team for the next 4 years,” said Harold Verster, Managing Director of the Free State Cheetahs (Pty) Ltd.


Support staff:

Corniel van Zyl has been earmarked to take the position as forwards coach for the Cheetahs. Van Zyl is no stranger to Free State and was part of the Cheetah team that won the Currie Cup in 2005, 2006 and 2007.

Van Zyl continued his career at Treviso and represented Italy in the 2011 World Cup and played in 7 Tests for Italy.

He is currently a player / coach with the Italian club, Treviso.

He will be relocating to Bloemfontein in the next 2 months.

Hawies Fourie’s contract with the Toyota Cheetahs is also coming to an end at the end of the 2015 Super Rugby season, from where he will be re-joining the GWK Griquas as head coach for the Currie Cup season.

Fourie and new Toyota Cheetahs coach Franco Smith are busy with negotiations regarding his position as backline coach for the 2016 Super rugby season.

Ashwell Rafferty will be the team manager for the Free State Cheetahs for the 2015 Currie Cup season. He has proven his competence over the last couple of years by doing an excellent job as the team manager of the Free State XV during the Vodacom Cup and the Free State Cheetahs in the Under 21 competition. Rafferty is a former Cheetah player with more than 50 caps for the franchise and he represented South Africa as a Sevens player.

The rest of the support staff that did duty in 2014 Currie Cup campaign will stay intact.


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