After eight years as head coach of the Cheetahs, Naka Drotske has announced his retirement from rugby.
Drotske, 44, will step down as coach after the current Super Rugby competition.
Drotske will be remembered as one of the biggest legends of Free State and Cheetah Rugby in the 120 year existence of the union.
He served Free State Rugby as a player, coach and administrator over a period of two decades.
Drotske managed to achieve the unique distinction by winning the Currie Cup as a player and captain, as team manager and coach dubetween 2005 and 2007.
Drotske was also part of the Springbok squad that won the World Cup in 1995 in Ellis Park.
As coach in 2013, he led the Cheetahs to the play-offs in both the Currie Cup and Super Rugby competitions – a first for the Toyota Cheetahs.
Drotske coached the Free State Cheetahs in 90 Currie Cup and 114 Super Rugby games to date. A total of 14 players became Springboks under Drotske’s leadership.
The Managing Director of the Free State Cheetahs (Pty) Ltd, Harold Verster heaped praise on Drotske.
“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 Cheetahs.
“Naka played an essential role in player contracting. With a limited budget he managed to recruit top players and produced Springboks for the Cheetahs.”
A statement from the Cheetahs read: “Free State Rugby honours Naka Drotske for his enormous contribution to Free State and Cheetah Rugby and wishes him all of the best for the future. The name ‘Naka Drotske’ will live on as a legend in the history of Free Sate and Cheetah Rugby.”
* Franco Smith, who coached Shimlas to their maiden Varsity Cup crown this year, will now be in charge of the Cheetahs in Currie Cup and Super Rugby.