Drotske's job on the line?
The future of Toyota Free State Cheetahs coach Naka Drotske and his assistants is very much on the line when they face the EP Kings in Bloemfontein in their promotion-relegation match on Friday.
But Drotske and co may not be the only ones who come under the spotlight, as a much wider-reaching “cleanout” is on the cards if the Cheetahs do not stay in the Premier division of Absa Currie Cup rugby and lose to the Kings.
While there is a lot of pressure on Drotske and his team this week, it has been compounded by talk in Bloemfontein of “heads rolling” if the Cheetahs lose.
Free State Rugby Union President Lyndsey Mould told Die Volksblad that he would launch an investigation as early as next week into why the Cheetahs were in this position.
“If we beat the EP Kings on Friday or not, I want to get all the decision makers together and if we have to act aggressively, we will do that,” Mould told the newspaper.
“A lot of things have gone wrong this season and we have played without a number of our stalwarts, but that is no excuse. There simply isn’t any excuse.”
The Cheetahs have thus far stuck by coach Drotske, even though he has never managed to finish higher than 10th in the Vodacom Super Rugby series and their last Currie Cup success was in 2007.
The team is also playing in its first promotion-relegation game since 1988, and a loss would be devastating to the union.
“If we are to be relegated, it will have major consequences for the Free State Rugby Union. We will lose sponsorships and that will mean that everybody’s jobs will be on the line. Friday night is all that the players and management must focus on, nothing else.”
But Free State Cheetahs CEO Harold Verster has defended the team, saying they are well managed and that it was too early to talk about firing coaches.
“We have to right the wrongs, no matter how hard it is. In any business if there is trouble, then you need to look at the problems and make the necessary decisions to right them,” Verster said.
“There are many people who think that Free State Rugby is badly run, but I don’t see it. We are a professional entity. When we applied for a Super Rugby franchise, we were second best of all the local teams because of our business plan. The Cheetahs are still run on the same plan.”
Verster said Toyota were committed to the team until the end of 2013.