Cheetahs head coach Naka Drotské will step down at the end of the Super Rugby season to take up a position overseas with Franco Smith to take over.

The 44-year-old has been in charge of the Cheetahs for eight years, but has decided to walk away after a tough campaign which has seen them fall to the bottom of the South African Conference.

A former Springbok hooker, Drotské was part of South Africa's World Cup winning side in 1995, while as a coach he led the Cheetahs to the Super Rugby play-offs for the first time in 2013.

"Free State Rugby honours Naka Drotske for his enormous contribution to Free State and Cheetah Rugby and wishes him all of the best for the future," read a statement from the franchise.

"The name ‘Naka Drotske’ will live on as a legend in the history of Free State and Cheetah Rugby.”

Franco Smith, the former Treviso coach, will take over from Drotské as Cheetahs coach.

Drotské managed to achieve the unique distinction by winning the Currie Cup as a player and captain, as team manager and coach during the 2005 to 2007 period. Drotske was also part of the Springbok squad that won the World Cup in 1995 in Ellis Park.  As coach in 2013, he led the Cheetahs to the play-offs in both the Currie Cup and Super Rugby competitions - a first for the province.

Drotské has coached the Free State Cheetahs in 90 Currie Cup and 114 Super Rugby games to date with 14 players becoming Springboks under his leadership.


Na agt jaar aan die stuur van die Cheetahs as hoofafrigter het Naka Drotske sy uittrede aangekondig.  Naka sal die tuig as breier neerlê na afloop van die huidige SupeRugby Kompetisie.
 
Drotske kan sekerlik as een van die heel grootste legendes bestempel word wat Vrystaat en die Cheetahs Rugby opgelewer het,  oor die unie se bestaan van 120 jaar.  Drotske het oor ‘n periode van meer as twee dekades Vrystaat Rugby en die Cheetahs gedien as speler, afrigter en administrateur.
 
Drotske het die unieke prestasie behaal om die Curriebeker as speler en kaptein, as spanbestuurder en as afrigter te verower in die periode van 2005 tot 2007. Drotske verower ook as speler in 1995 die Wêreldbeker saam met die Springbokke op Ellis Park en in 2013 lei Drotske die Cheetahs na beide die uitspeel rondtes in die Super Rugby en Curriebeker kompetisies -  ʼn eerste vir die Cheetahs.
 
Naka het in sy tyd as afrigter nie minder as 14 Springbokke opgelewer en die Cheetahs in 90 Curriebeker- en tot op hede in 114 SupeRugby wedstryde gebrei.
 
Die Besturende Direkteur van die Vrystaat Cheetahs Mnr. Harold Verster is vol lof vir Naka: “Ek en Naka het ʼn lang en aangename pad saam geloop. Ek ken hom sedert hy as skoolseun reeds top rugby gespeel het. Hy is ʼn sterk leier en ʼn kundige man. Ek wens hom en sy familie net die mooiste toe vir die toekoms en sien uit na sy verdere ondersteuning van die Cheetahs”.
 
“Naka het ‘n baie groot en kundige rol in verband met speler kontraktering gespeel.  Hy het met ‘n beperkte begroting daarin geslaag om top spelers te werf en Springbokke op te lewer.”
 
Vrystaat Rugby eer Naka Drotske vir sy enorme bydrae tot Vrystaat- en Cheetahs Rugby en wens hom alles van die beste toe vir wat sy toekoms mag inhou.  Die naam Naka Drotske sal altyd as ʼn legende voortleef in die geskiedenis van Vrystaat- en Cheetah Rugby.