‘We have a good match 22′

Cheetahs coach Naka Drotske on the upcoming Super Rugby season.

THE NEW SUPER RUGBY FORMAT
‘It’s a longer and tougher competition, so you will need depth, and that will make it difficult for us because we don’t have a big squad like most of the other teams. But we do have a good match 22 and the Griquas players help create more depth in certain positions. We’re looking forward to the new challenge.’

MORE LOCAL DERBIES
‘Playing the South African teams home and away will benefit us as we tend to do well against them. I’m not sure why but we struggle against the Australian and New Zealand teams.’

THEIR SCHEDULE
‘I would’ve preferred to have our first bye straight after our Australasian tour, but we can do nothing about the fixtures and have to make do with the cards we are dealt. We play a few South African games before we head off overseas in mid-March, so we will look for some good momentum in our opening matches before we tour.’

HIS IMPACT PLAYERS
‘Our Boks will be important for us; guys like [prop] Coenie Oosthuizen, [hooker] Adriaan Strauss and [flank] Juan Smith while we will also have [flank] Heinrich Brüssow back from injury. [Centre] Andries Strauss showed good form for the Sharks in the Currie Cup, especially in the final while we also made other good signings in [lock] Wilhelm Steenkamp, Ryno Benjamin and Philip Burger [both wings].’

THEIR HALFBACK COMBO
‘Sarel Pretorius and Naas Olivier should be our first-choice halfback combination as they complement our game plan. Sarel brings a new dimension on attack while Naas is steady and has been one of the form flyhalves in the country for the past two seasons.’

EARL ROSE
‘Earl has a point to prove. Hennie Daniller and Riaan Viljoen are the other fullbacks in the squad, while at flyhalf there’s Naas, Louis Strydom and Sias Ebersohn. Earl will have to work hard to prove he should be selected ahead of those players. The good thing about Earl is that he’s versatile. He can play at flyhalf, wing and fullback.’

– Read the full Cheetahs Super Rugby preview in the latest issue of SA Rugby magazine.