Naka set to roll out second string

Naka Drotske will rotate his squad when the Cheetahs face the table-topping Crusaders on Saturday.

The Cheetahs were hit by injury before embarking on their four-match Australasian tour, with captain Juan Smith, Jacques-Louis Potgieter and Gavin Passens left in Bloemfontein. The past weekend has also seen the central franchise record their fourth successive loss. In response, Drotske is looking to give a few key players a break.

“The Chiefs game has taken it’s toll on a few of the players,” he told keo.co.za. “They really targeted us at the breakdown and there are four or five players who need time to recover. Guys like Wian du Preez are nursing niggles and will only begin training on Wednesday.”

Drotske confirmed Meyer Bosman and Duanne Vermeulen, who’ve both been prominent on attack, are likely to sit out when the Cheetahs face the six-time champs.

“Meyer and Duanne have played every minute of every match so far and deserve a rest. There are a few others I’ll look to rest, and I explained to players before the tour that everyone would get a chance to play.”

Drotske told this website last week he was targeting two wins on tour. The Chiefs were a side he felt the Cheetahs could beat, but the Crusaders were always going to be a tough ask.

“We are not going to throw this match, but we need to give a few players a break. It’s a long competition and we’ve already lost a few players to injury already. It also wouldn’t be wise to push guys who are not 100%.”

The Cheetahs will continue their tour without centre Herkie Kruger, who returns to South Africa as a result of back injury that’s not responding to treatment. The good news is Kabamba Floors is over his neck injury and should play in Christchurch.

By Jon Cardinelli