Naka eyes Cheetahs’ home leg




After making their Super 14 debut last year, the Cheetahs are hoping to deliver on the promise they displayed in their first year. Currie Cup success for the Bloemfontein side has also added to the hope that many have for the team in next year’s competition.

The Cheetahs will open their second Super 14 campaign next year with a flurry of matches on South African turf.

Manager Naka Drotske told a reporter that he sees these matches as being key to Cheetahs’ success.

“If you start well, that gives you the opportunity to challenge for a semi-final spot at the business end of the competition.”

This characteristic of the competition is exacerbated for the Cheetahs by the traditional importance of bagging maximum points in their home games.

Six of their first seven matches are home games, although they will play the Waratahs in Kimberley the week after travelling to Pretoria to tussle with provincial rivals, the Bulls. This means that the Cheetahs face a domestic mini-tour away from their home base in Bloemfontein in the middle of their home leg.

But Kimberley has always been a difficult place for visiting teams, and the Waratahs should struggle against a battle-hardened and exciting Bloemfontein outfit.

Drotske says that the Cheetahs, after a promising debut last year, and after tasting Currie Cup success two years running, will be even better in 2007. Drotske himself was part of the Currie Cup-winning side of 2005.

“We have much more depth going into next year’s competition. We do have an awkward home leg but overall we can only be happy with our draw.”

“Injuries always play an important role in the Super 14, so if we can maintain a full-strength squad, this more experienced Cheetahs side, who have shown they know how to win, could be a force to be reckoned with in the Super 14.”

The Cheetahs have been maintaining individual training programmes so far, and will get together for the first time this Sunday night.

On January 3, Springboks Juan Smith, Kabamba Floors and CJ van der Linde would have rejoined the squad as they begin preparations for their January warm-up games which include matches against Samoa in Kimberley, a fixture against the Force in Dubai and there is also an unconfirmed match scheduled to be played against the Stormers.

By Chris Waldburger

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.