Naka Drotské will retire from coaching at the end of the Vodacom Super Rugby season, with Franco Smith taking over as coach of the Cheetahs.
Drotské will call time on his nine-year tenure as head coach of the Bloemfontein-based franchise as he looks to pursue his business interests away from rugby.
Smith, who last week was named Currie Cup coach, will take over the role of head coach after signing a four-year deal with the union.
His term will start on 1 November 2015 and he will have full say over will have full say over the coaching staff of both the Super Rugby and Currie Cup teams.
Corniel van Zyl, who worked with Smith during his successful tenure at Treviso in Italy, will join the union as forwards coach ahead of the Currie Cup season.
Harold Verster, the managing director of the Free State Cheetahs (Pty) Ltd, took a moment to lavish praise on Drotské, who has served the union for well over two decades.
'Naka and I walked a long and pleasant road. I have known him since his schooling days where he played top rugby. He is a strong leader and a wise man. I wish him and his family only the best for the road ahead and look forward to his support of the Cheetahs.
'Naka played an essential role in player contracting. With a limited budget he managed to recruit top players and produced Springboks for the Cheetahs.
'Free State rugby honours Naka for his enormous contribution to Free State and Cheetahs rugby and wishes him all of the best for the future. The name “Naka Drotské” will live on as a legend in the history of Free Sate and Cheetahs rugby.'
Photo: Gerhard Steenkamp/BackpagePix