Brenden Nel - SuperSport
Johannesburg - The South African conference is wide open with any one of the five franchises who could end up on top.
That is the view of Toyota Cheetahs coach Naka Drotske ahead of this year’s 2012 Vodacom Super Rugby season.
Drotske is confident his Cheetahs side will surprise most this year and believes they have overcome their fears and learnt the lessons of the past.
But it is the even playing field in the South African franchise which is exciting him the most. While the Sharks and Stormers both will start as the country’s favourites in the competition, the Cheetahs know that they have beaten them before and can again, and that there isn’t a franchise which holds any fear over them at the moment.
“The franchise is really wide open at the moment,” Drotske told SuperSport.com, “The Stormers have a good team and the Sharks are always strong. The big question will be what the Bulls bring to the table, as they have lost a lot of big names. What people don’t realise is that you can’t just replace Victor Matfield, Bakkies Botha and Fourie du Preez overnight. It will be interesting to see how they react.
“The Lions also have a lot of self-confidence after their win in the Currie Cup, so it will be an interesting season ahead.”
While the Cheetahs were behind against the Kings, they rallied back to win easily in their opening pre-season game, something that has pleased Drotske.
“We were good, we have a few things to work on, like our handling. We threw six tries away but considering it is our first warm-up game, I’m pretty pleased. What was nice was to see how we created try-scoring opportunities, which we just struggled to finish.”
The Cheetahs will give their fringe players a chance against the Griffons tonight before their last two games – a Bulls A and B side next weekend against their respective counterparts – ends their game preparation ahead of this year’s competition.