Cheetahs

Drotsk� aims for a ‘smooth’ transfer

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New Cheetahs Currie Cup coach Naka Drotsk’ has a few weeks of delicate negotiations ahead of him as he tries to ensure a smooth transfer in coaching duties from Rassie Erasmus, the current head coach, to himself.

It was confirmed last week that Drotsk’ will take over the coaching duties from Erasmus, who is to take up a position as a technical adviser with the Springbok team, after the completion of the Super 14 season.

Erasmus will only join up with the Boks after the Super 14 and will remain in charge for the last three weeks – in which the Cheetahs face the Reds in Brisbane, the Western Force in Perth and Lions in Johannesburg.

Speaking from Brisbane, where the Cheetahs are preparing for their Round 12 Super 14 encounter with the Reds on Saturday, Drotsk’ said that there are some delicate salary negotiations to be done in the next few weeks.

He described his appointment as “a big honour and a privilege” and added that he hopes to ensure a smooth transfer.

“Rassie [Erasmus] have already put in place all the structures the past two years,” Drotsk’ said from Brisbane.

“It is not like we’re getting somebody from outside. Everybody knows exactly where they stand, and the rest of the management team stays unchanged.

“I also know the players very well and hopefully it will be a smooth transition when we start with the Currie Cup.”

But his main priority ahead of the Currie Cup is to re-sign a core group of key players.

“One of the most important aspects is securing the services of a number of key players,” Drotsk’ said.

“We have five or six players whose contracts will expire in October.

“The first priority would be to retain their services, these are the same players who have achieved Currie Cup success under Rassie. They know all the systems and structures and it is vital that we sign those players for at least another year.”

Drotsk’ was not prepared to reveal the names of the players who are coming off contract, but reports in the Bloemfontein media suggested the Blue Bulls are among the teams interested in tighthead prop Jannie du Plessis.

It has also been reported that fly-half Willem de Waal has had a sizeable offer from France and European clubs are eager to obtain the services of Springbok scrum-half Michael Claassens.

Talented hooker Richardt Strauss is apparently also on the shopping lists of some teams.

Drotske, who said he will start his planning for the Currie Cup the week after the completion of the Super 14 series (May 5), said he has been involved in the coaching of the forwards during Erasmus’ time in charge.

“The big advantage is that I know all the structures and systems, I was involved in the coaching so it’s not like we have to start from scratch.”

Drotsk”s appointment is only for the Currie Cup and the Cheetahs’ Super 14 coach for 2008 have not been confirmed yet.

However, he expects to be in the running.

“I was appointed by the Free State Rugby Union [FSRU] at this stage. The Cheetahs Super 14 franchise is a different entity and situation.

“I have been appointed for a year at this stage, but the board of the [Super 14] franchise will have to decide about the Super 14 coach.

“However, I don’t expect any problems.”

By Jan de Koning 365 Digital 

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