Naka Drotske in his Bok playing days.
Pretoria - Former Springbok hooker and rugby coach Naka Drotske used his rugby skills to save family and friends during an armed robbery in Pretoria on Thursday night.

Drotske, it is said, shielded the group by putting himself, scrum-like, on the line. He was shot three times and is in a stable condition in Montana Hospital intensive care.

According to Ian Cameron, who heads up AfriForum’s community safety section and who was among those present when the group was attacked, Drotske had shielded the group in a brave and selfless act that could have cost him his life.

They said he flew across a table and “scrummed” the three attackers out the door. “With his arms interlocked and his head down, (he went) between the attackers and pushed forward against them until they were out of the house.

“It was like a scrum which saved the members of the family.”

Drotske, who represented the Boks in 26 Tests and was a member of the 1995 World Cup-winning squad, was visiting on his brother Tinus’s smallholding in Kameeldrift, north of Pretoria, along with former Bok teammate, Os du Randt, when the robbers surprised them. They had been working on business deals throughout the day and went to Tinus’s home to unwind.

They had finished braaiing at around 9.15pm and were ready to go inside the house when the attackers struck. A woman tried to close the lounge security door, but the three armed men pounced on her and forced their way in.

Drotske, who had been sitting at the lounge table near the security gate, flipped the table and pushed the three men out the door: “It was a big scuffle, almost like a scrum. But this time it was one against three. With his strong physique he managed to win in the scrum and that is when he was shot three times in the abdomen, arm and just above the rib,” said Cameron.

The family ran to the security gate in the passageway and pressed the panic button, which led to the attackers fleeing.

But their woes did not end there: as Du Randt rushed the injured bleeding Drotske to Netcare Montana Hospital, the car they were travelling in veered off the road and two of its tyres burst.

A car passing by stopped and gave them a lift to the hospital.

According to reports, Drotske had lost a lot of blood by the time he was admitted. He had lost a lot of blood - up to a third, the reports added.

Police spokesperson Kay Makhubela said a case of attempted murder and attempted house robbery had been opened, but by late yesterday, he said, police had not yet made any arrests.

However, two men had been taken in for questioning.

This was the third similar incident in the family’s four-year stay at the smallholding. But Thursday night’s incident was the most gruesome, they said, and the family had decided to leave to stay with friends in a security estate in the interests of their safety.

Some of the family’s belongings had already been removed by yesterday, and they will be moving out permanently.

When the Pretoria News arrived at the smallholding, a forensics team and police were scouring the house and blood spatters could be seen on the porch.

Cameron said AfriForum was involved in a court case which could see reservists protect Kameeldrift where, he said, crime was out of control.

Neighbour Manie Entress said they were still coming to terms with the murder of his wife, shot a couple of houses away from Tinus’s house in September. “This place is ridden with attackers and police are not doing anything to keep us safe,” he said.

Drotske’s wife, Marzanne, arrived in Pretoria shortly after 1 am on Friday from their home in Bloemfontein, and at that time his sons were believed to be en route to America.

Drotske retired from playing competitive rugby in 2005 and coached the Free State Cheetahs until 2015.

Both SA Rugby and the SA Rugby Legends Association expressed shock and wished Drotske a speedy recovery.

Pretoria News