Naka: Pine-factor no problem
Bloemfontein - Blue Bulls coach Pine Pienaar's knowledge of several young players in the Free State rugby team is not a major concern for the Cheetahs ahead of Saturday's Currie Cup match in Pretoria.
That is the view of Free State coach Naka Drotské in the build-up to the Cheetahs' second Currie Cup match of 2011.
Drotské said that the Bulls have had the same approach for the past seven years and Pienaar's involvement is not expected to change that.
Pienaar still coached Free State in the Vodacom Cup earlier this year and was recently appointed as the Blue Bulls' Currie Cup coach. He also coached the Free State under-21 side and therefore has good knowledge of a number of their newcomers.
Eigthman Boom Prinsloo, flank Lappies Labuschagné, scrumhalf Pieter van Zyl, and props Marcel van der Merwe and Trevor Nyakane all played under-21 rugby under Pienaar. They all made their Currie Cup debuts against the Leopards last Saturday.
Pienaar was never directly involved with Free State's senior team, but should know more about the Cheetahs than most opponents.
Even so, Drotské won't be losing sleep about Pienaar's influence on the game against his old friends.
"We have a number of young players who Pine knows well, but it's very difficult to focus on individual players. For example, it will be difficult for him to tell the Bulls' No 7 flank what Lappies does. It's difficult when he knows them as coach, but his players do not know them," said Drotské.
He believes that his team knows how the Bulls play.
"It's not really a significant disadvantage for us that Pine knows our players. He knows how we play and we know how the Bulls play. The Bulls have been playing a certain way for the past six or seven years.
"You know that if you want to beat the Bulls you have to be aggressive and stop them behind the advantage line. You cannot give them momentum."
Drotské believes there will be pressure on his young players, but is confident that they will be up to the task.
"We are improving every week. You could see in the live scrumming sessions, lineout sessions and drives that the forwards are slowly but surely becoming a unit."
Meanwhile, the Cheetahs could not announce their team on Tuesday due to a few light injuries.
Flyhalf Sias Ebersohn (ankle) and hooker Michael van Vuuren (upper leg) did not train and will have to prove their fitness on Wednesday. Hooker PW van Vuuren also could not train fully due to a sore leg.