Sias Ebersohn has expressed his disappointment in Naka Drotské after the Cheetahs coach failed to back him in the 2012 season.
On Tuesday, it was confirmed that Ebersohn had signed a two-year contract with the Western Force. A lack of game time in this year’s Super Rugby competition as well as the coach’s lack of faith in his ability has resulted in Ebersohn swapping Bloemfontein for Perth.
Ebersohn was the Cheetahs’ No 1 flyhalf in 2011 but the rise of Johan Goosen meant he started the 2012 season on the bench. When Goosen was seriously injured, Drotské favoured Riaan Smit in the starting flyhalf position. Ebersohn was again overlooked.
It appears that Drotské never forgave Ebersohn for missing that penalty against the Highlanders. When Goosen was injured, Ebersohn came on to the field and immediately slotted a conversion from the sideline. But the Highlanders fought back strongly and eventually took the lead. Ebersohn had a chance to win the game in the final minute, but missed from point-blank range.
Ebersohn immediately expressed his regret, but also felt the coaching staff should have backed him in the games that followed. He said as much when speaking to OFM on Tuesday.
‘I waited a long time for my chance at the Cheetahs and then suddenly Goosen was on the scene and when he got injured, I was suddenly replaced by Riaan Smit – in my three years at the franchise I never competed with Riaan for a place and it seems that the chances that other players are given, were never given to me. It’s sad but at some point you have to look at yourself.
‘It isn’t in my hands. I am not the coach and it was always Naka’s decision. As a player I will always give my best and this move won’t influence the way I play. It is disappointing to leave, especially when you realise they aren’t interested in you.
‘I had high expectations of the season, and things didn’t always go as I wanted them to go. But there were promises of playing time made that never materialised. Goosen had a good season and I am a player who plays not for money, but rather to enjoy the game. You can never get better unless you are backed and you improve on the field. Luckily this lesson has happened early in my career and I can learn from it.’
Ebersohn told the Bloemfontein radio station that a player needs to be backed during the bad times. He cited Springbok and Bulls flyhalf Morné Steyn as an example.
Steyn has a reputation as one of the most accurate kickers in the world, but has had an inconsistent season in front of goal.
‘Morné has had – by his standards – one of the poorest kicking seasons of his career but he still plays and the team still backs him. I never played enough to get my self confidence on a high and without those opportunities, you get rusty, you get “vrot”. You need to play to keep in form,’ he said.
Ebersohn added that he looked forward to making the flyhalf position at the Force his own.