Naka bids team farewell

2015-05-13 06:00
NAKA DROTSKÉ leaves the Toyota Cheetahs after the Super Rugby competition. 
Conrad Bornman

NAKA DROTSKÉ leaves the Toyota Cheetahs after the Super Rugby competition. Photo: Conrad Bornman

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IN what came as a shock to the Toyota Cheetahs fans, Naka Drotské announced his retirement from rugby on Friday.

The Senekal-born coach will leave the Cheetahs after the current Super Rugby competition to focus on his business interests.

He will be replaced by Franco Smith, who recently guided the Shimlas to Varsity Cup success.

“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 Toyota Cheetahs,” Drotské told journalists during a press conference held at the Free State Stadium.

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

He said he informed Ryno Opperman, the chairman of the Toyota Cheetahs, about his intention to retire from rugby after he had signed the business contract in April.

“It is not ideal to make this announcement in the middle of the current Super Rugby season, but unfortunately some of the information leaked to the media and the wrong message based on sensation and lies was sent out to the public.

“This left us with no choice but to make the announcement as early as possible with the correct facts.

“I apologise to my players and management that I could not discuss the situation with them first and that they had to learn about this in the media,” said Drotské.

“The advantage of making the announcement now is that 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,” he added.

Drotské said he was considering to become a player agent to represent players in South Africa.

“I’ve been involved in rugby since I can remember and would like to stay involved with the game in some way.

“In my time as coach of the Cheetahs, I have represented the Union 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 S15 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.”

Drotské said the highlights of his coaching career were the 2005 Currie Cup win at Loftus against a very good Bulls side as well as making the play-offs of the Super Rugby competition in 2013 for the first and only time in the history of Cheetahs rugby.

He said he had no regrets about his decision to retire from coaching and he thanked the Cheetahs management and his wife for their 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.”

Drotské said since he was a little boy, one of his biggest heroes was Dr Danie Craven.

“My advice to the new coach would therefore be take criticism from whom it comes.

“One of Craven’s 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 the new coach would be to get a dog”

Harold Verster, the managing director of the Free State Cheetahs (Pty) Ltd, was full of praise for Drotské.

“Naka and I walked a long and pleasant road. I have known him since his schooling 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 Toyota Cheetahs.

Drotské played an essential role in player contracting. With a limited budget, he managed to recruit top players and produced Springboks for the Cheetahs.”

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