Naka: Don't write SBW off

2011-05-17 22:11

Hendrik Cronjé

Bloemfontein - The Springboks will be making a huge mistake if they harbour under the impression that professional boxer Sonny Bill Williams is no longer a factor on the rugby field.

That is the warning from Cheetahs coach Naka Drotské, whose team proved so effective at neutralising Williams that the home team managed to beat the Crusaders 33-20.

"The other South African teams and the Springboks will be making a huge mistake if they are under the impression that the Sonny Bill Williams-factor no longer exists. He remains a special player capable of breaking through any defence in the blink of an eye," said Drotské.

Williams was given no space thanks to a master plan devised by the Cheetahs' coaching staff. The team-mate he wanted to off-load to in contact was stopped behind the advantage line.

Former Springbok centre Brendan Venter had written in his weekly column about how teams could make Williams look ordinary. Williams's play had, in fact, not particularly impressed Venter.

However, Drotské said that the contribution of Cheetahs defence coach Michael Horak should not be underestimated in the victory over the Crusaders.

"Brendan is a big friend of mine and today probably the biggest expert on defence in the world. Even so, I feel that the credit for our defence against Williams should go to Michael and our centre pairing of Robert Ebersohn and Barry Geel," said Drotské.

According to Drotské, Horak had already started devising special plans as a counter for Williams's special skills prior to the publication of Venter's column.

"The planning of how to defend against the Crusaders was done by Michael and full marks to the players for their execution."

Horak played Test rugby for England, represented Saracens and also played for Free State earlier in his career.

Ebersohn's defence has been singled out for praise this year by team-mate and Springbok centre Andries Strauss. Statistics prove Strauss is correct as Wynand Olivier of the Bulls, with 132 tackles, is the only South African centre to have made more tackles than Ebersohn (123) in this year's Super Rugby tournament.

According to, Geel's 17 tackles was the second most by a Cheetahs player against the Crusaders. Only replacement flank Kabamba Floors (18) was better.

Drotské said that while the Cheetahs' defence was good against Williams and the Crusaders, it was not yet perfect.

"The challenge remains to get the players on the same wavelength for a full 80 minutes and to get them to stick to the same system. We must now forget about the victory over the Crusaders and focus on the Rebels, who have managed a few surprise results this year," said Drotské.


  • Crusader Man - 2011-05-17 22:20

    Wise Comment.. SBW wasn't as effective because his centre partner was called up from club rugby and wasn't quite upto it yet. Crotty was also the player who dropped the last inside pass where the Cheetahs no7 ran away with the ball. Really quite amazing how the Cheetahs who have probably leaked the most points can claim to how outstanding their defense is.. Come on guys you could still get a few hidings this year from teams within your own conference.

      kotzeae - 2011-05-17 22:30

      Rugby just is a funny game friend. The Cheetas once again lost a few big ones by just a few points this year. The Free State (home province of the Cheetas) produces most top players in SA but once players begin to bud they are bought by richer franchises. As a result the team always consists of a majority of young and relatively inexperienced players. SBW is special no doubt but one can expect that all teams will be making all sorts of plans to neutralise his effect.

      !!Vrystaat!! - 2011-05-18 20:46

      Crusader man, please look a the scores when they lost and they injuries that had to carry, playing your first 4 games EACH time with a different captain does not help and then 3 games after that another one. They might not be a big name, but at least they where consistent, had the MOST bonus points for under 7 point losses meaning consistently competitive.

  • Howzitekse - 2011-05-17 22:59

    Naka knows his stuff. SBW is the only centre in the world who has groups of coaches colaborating to work out plans to stop him. If it is true that SBW does not impress Brendon Venter (who I respect, sort of) why is he fussing over SBW?

  • Stefan - 2011-05-18 01:51

    Simple !!!! SBW is one of the BEST and can or should become a LEGEND !!!

      Stefan - 2011-05-18 01:53

      Just look at the way he can OFFLOAD a ball !! Draws in a couple of players and then he still OFFLOADS a class ball :)

  • boerinkwd - 2011-05-18 05:18

    The Cheetahs showed that we CAN do the same with SBW as we did with Jonah Lomu in the mid nineties...preventing the latter to ever score a try against the Springboks...who will ever forget the Japie Mulder & Joost vd Westh tackle on Lomu in the 95 RWC Final!!!???

      Black Beauty - 2011-05-18 06:00

      Exactly, Jonah v SBW, keep watching bro: Here's an idea for you to contemplate, wing and centre's are far and few between, I'd suggest you watch our centres according to Herr Vinteryet still gathers defenders. The Bokkes continue to concentrate on fathoms/fantoms toms yet the All Backs have gone Metric. 15 + ONE = New Zealand

      picus1965 - 2011-05-18 06:20

      @ Black Beauty: Agree with you, 15 + 1 (the referee) = New Zealand. Plenty times he (ref) pulled it thru for them :)

  • majoor - 2011-05-18 09:08

    Sorry Mates! I've said it many times and I'll say it again. SBW is an average player but very big unit. He'll be playing against the minno's at the RWC. He won't make the NZ starting line-up.

      Coconut Frontier - 2011-05-18 16:05

      Agreed. SBW is so average that basically every team he's played against speak about divising special plans to try and neutralise him. Imagine how much time they spend trying to nulify the good players. On a side note, not sure what to make of Rob Ebersohns tweet about his game against SBW. I'ver never seen or heard of a player (exception being the Yanks) in a team sport opening gloat about how they went against another player. Apart from the Chiefs & Cheetahs game SBW has pretty much outplayed his opposite. Not once has he said (and this goes for his whole career) anything that can even be mistaken for having a dig at his opposite. And SBW has dominated alot of players in both codes. Actually I can't even think of any NZ/Oz or even SA players going on like that. Cheetahs played well and deserved to win but there is something not right about tweeting how awesome you played as an individual.

      !!Vrystaat!! - 2011-05-18 20:51

      @Coconut Frontier if you follow rugby almost all NEW players with some talent is like that in the beginning, and then after a few games they get worked out and become those who get's it right now and again if the ball bounces there way. From South Africa, Bjorn Basson is dangerous like hell, but they are starting to take him out like Habanna, (takle without ball, holding back, run infront of him). it just takes tame and the super WOW becomes just a player.

      Coconut Frontier - 2011-05-19 14:45

      !!Vrystaat!! - You may be right about SBW in this case (I disagee but thats just me). The point of my post was that SBW is NOT average. (All the SR Stats, game commentators, and YouTube highlight clips confirm this) and more importantly Rob Ebersohns tweet I felt went against the spirit of rugby (or team sports in general). In that he seemed to be gloating about his performance by taking a veiled swipe at SBW who has said nothing but respectful things about SA rugby and their players.

  • Clinton - 2011-05-18 09:53

    When the major part of your game plan revolves around neutralizing one player, you KNOW he is very special. Williams is exactly that! But believe me, special players like him always adapt (I almost want to say mutate) and become dangerous all over again. Look-out for this guy in the RWC.

  • MrTeaCan - 2011-05-19 09:29

    Sonny BW still made a dangerous offload in the game,in my books one offload can make a great difference in a test,plus SBW did not finish the game.Crusaders were also playing with many significant injuries.

      Met Uysh! - 2011-05-19 14:55

      So did the Cheetahs.

  • jan du preeaz - 2011-05-24 17:55

    ag please ou naka, die crusaders was moeggemaak die vorige week deur die stormers, en hulle het met n' derde span teen julle gespeel. daai wen teen hulle gee jou vals hoop ou maat, die beste ding wat met die cheetas kan gebeur is wanneer die unie jou onder jou gat skop en brendan venter die afrigter maak.

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