Chiliboy Ralepelle has dismissed claims from the Vodacom Blue Bulls that he is not ready to play Test match rugby.
This was in reaction to Bulls coach Pote Human, who told the Pretoria News that Ralepelle may still be too young for Test rugby.
â€œIt is definitely an opportunity for Chiliboy and one he needs to take. But I canâ€™t help but think it may be too soon for him,â€ he said. â€œTo throw him in against some of the best players in the world is fine if youâ€™re that young and a backline player, but it is different if youâ€™re a front row forward. Still it is something that is a pat on the back for us coaches.â€
But Ralepelle was adamant he has what it takes to compete at this level, despite still being 19-years-old.
“I believe I am ready,” he told keo.co.za from his hotel room in Sydney. “It’s all in God’s hands and I don’t believe He would present me with something I could not handle.”
Ralepelle though has had no indication from coach Jake White whether he will actually get on the field at the Telstra Stadium on Saturday or not. “It’s not up to me, so we will see how thee match pans out, but if I am needed I am confident I will not let the team down.”
The likely change, if any takes place, will see captain John Smit switch to tighthead prop in place of CJ van der Linde, allowing Ralepelle to slot in at hooker late in the game. “If I am given the opportunity then I will grab it with both hands. I was nervous when I first heard of my selection, but John (Smit) and Os du Randt have been amazing with their guidance. Now I’m feeling much more confident.”
Ralepelle was a member of both the SA U19 and U21 World Cup-winning teams last year and captained the Baby Boks to second place in this years’ event in France. He has hardly had much game time at the Bulls, playing sporadically in this year’s Vodacom Super 14.
“I’m learning everyday here and the preparation has been good this week and we are totally focussed on the match on Saturday. We can’t allow them the space they had last time (when the Boks lost 49-0) and we have worked hard on our defence.”
By Andrew Hollely