'Young' Cheetahs have good future
Free State Cheetahs coach Naka Drotské told Jan de Koning there are some "good signs" for the future of his young squad.
The Free State Cheetahs may be regarded as one of the most settled teams in the Currie Cup competition, but coach Naka Drotské feels they are blooding just as many 'young' players as any other team.
The Cheetahs, second on the standings just ahead of defending champions Western Province on points difference, travel to Pretoria this week where they will tackle the last-placed Blue Bulls on Saturday.
Despite the youthful nature of the opposition's line-out and the fact that the Bulls have managed just one win in four starts, Drotské is adamant that there will be no chance of complacency from his team.
"There is never an easy match at Loftus," Drotské told this website, when asked what the biggest threat is this week.
The Cheetahs mentor also dismissed the notion that the Cheetahs are 'far more experienced' than their opponents.
"They may have a bunch of young players, but we also have some inexperienced players," he said, adding: "Last weekend [against Griquas] only seven players remained from the side that face the Brumbies in the [Super Rugby] play-off match [back in July]."
Drotské spoke of "also building" and giving young players chances.
"Some of them [young players] have come through well in recent weeks, which is very exciting."
The Cheetahs head coach was quick to reel off a list of names who fall in the young and exciting category.
"Somebody like Trevor Nyakane, which is actually still young [turned 24 in May only] and he played very well," the coach said.
"Rossouw de Klerk [who turned 24 just over a week ago] has not had too many chances since he joined us [from the Bulls] and had a bad run with injuries. The past two weeks he scrummed very well and this past week his defence was outstanding.
"Oupa [Teboho] Mohoje [who turned 23 just a month ago] has made a meteoric rise in the last few weeks and has done exceptionally well for us as a No.4 lock. He is another player I am excited about.
"We are fortunate to have retained the bulk of our Super Rugby backline.
"Elgar Watts are playing really well at flyhalf.
"Kevin Luiters [just 21] did very well when he came on as a replacement for us last week.
"There some good signs for the future [of Cheetahs rugby]," Drotské added.
While the Cheetahs now have some momentum, following a good win against Griquas last Saturday, the Cheetahs mentor remained cautious about the trip to Pretoria this coming weekend.
"We desperately needed the win," he told this website, when asked about the 40-20 triumph in Bloemfontein.
"After the [15-18] loss to the Sharks [in Week Three] we were a bit under pressure," the coach said, adding: "The guys responded very well and the five points we got put us back into contention [second on the standings, two points behind the Sharks and just ahead of WP on points difference].
"I am very happy with the game this past weekend."
He also realises the Bulls in Pretoria remains a tough hurdle.
"Every game is tough, whether you play at home or away and the results this season showed that," Drotské said of a tournament that has already produced five away wins and two draws on the road in 12 matches.
"We realise it won't be easy as it is always tough to win at Loftus [Versfeld]."
By Jan de Koning