Cheetahs coach Naka Drotske hopes to keep Springbok wing Jongi Nokwe in Bloemfontein.
Nokwe has reportedly been approached by other unions, having revived his career at the Cheetahs after an unsuccessful stint with the Stormers.
Last year, the winger scored a try on his Test debut against Argentina and became the first player to score four tries in a Tri-Nations match, in the 53-8 victory against Australia. He also featured in the third Test against the British & Irish Lions last weekend.
While Nokwe’s stock has risen sharply over the past 12 months, Drotske believes the Cheetahs can keep him in Bloemfontein.
‘We have made him a very good offer and we hope his close relationship with [assistant coach] Hawies Fourie [who has been involved in Nokwe's development since 2004] will have some influence,’ Drotske told keo.co.za. ‘We are positive he will stay.’
If Nokwe does go, the Cheetahs will have to rely on other wingers in the squad like Lionel Mapoe, Danwell Demas, Fabian Juries, JW Jonker and Eddie Fredericks.
While the Cheetahs will also be without Bok loose forwards Juan Smith and Heinrich Brussouw, who will be on Tri-Nations duty, for most of the Currie Cup, Drotske believes they can still do well.
‘It is always a setback to lose our star players but we will adapt,’ he said. ‘We have depth in our squad and our young players are playing well. We are also lucky not to have any major injuries which always tends to be a problem’.
Since their disappointing Super 14 campaign, the Cheetahs have made some good progress. They were unlucky to lose 26-24 to the British & Irish Lions and they thrashed the SWD Eagles 42-15 in their warm-up fixture last week. Drotske hopes to maintain that momentum against local rivals Griquas in their opening match of the Currie Cup on Saturday.
‘After a good rest, we have enjoyed a good pre-season so our confidence is high.’ said Drotske. ‘Griquas are always a threat as local derbies always produce close games. But we have trained hard, so we will definitely have a point to prove.’
By Gareth Duncan