The Cheetahs played their first warm-up matches of the season yesterday when they fielded two teams – against the Shimlas and Griquas.
But with Springbok Piet van Zyl having departed to the Bulls, the other two top No 9s, Sarel Pretorius and the exciting Shaun Venter, lured from the Pumas, are both currently on the injured list. And veteran Tewis de Bruyn has called time on his career.
Drotske used Kevin Luiters, who played Super Rugby for the Cheetahs last year, in Team 1 and Inus Kritzinger in Team 2 yesterday.
He also believed that both Pretorius and Venter would be fit by the time they play the Pumas in Parys on February 1, while they could even be available for the second warm-up against the Madibaz or the EP Kings next weekend.
Both Pretorius and Venter, who underwent surgery, are recovering from shoulder injuries with their rehabilitation periods having started during the off-season.
Springbok flyhalf Johan Goosen didn’t take part yesterday as Drotske allowed him another week of recovery, but other Boks like captain Adriaan Strauss, Coenie Oosthuizen and Willie le Roux took part.
Yesterday was also the first opportunity to have a closer at new signings like Bulls centre Francois Venter and blond Blue Bulls flank Jean Cook, while there is great excitement about what speedy wing Cornal Hendricks, lured from the BlitzBokke, could bring.
With flank Heinrich Brussow out for three months with a toe injury, Boom Prinsloo could see himself as the openside flanker with Lappies Labuschagne and Philip van der Walt completing an impressive back-row.
There is still concern about the hand injury to Cook while the wrist injury of seasoned fullback Hennie Daniller will also see him eased back into action.
Drotske is due to name a squad of 36 players today before they depart tomorrow for a pre-season training camp in Jeffreys Bay.