Has Chiliboy Ralepelle become a political pawn?
‘I think it’s a disgrace that Chiliboy was selected for the Springbok Test against Wales, especially when you consider he only played 20 minutes of Super Rugby this season and is the third-choice hooker at the Bulls.
‘There are so many world-class hookers in South Africa at the moment, with John Smit, Bismarck du Plessis [who’s currently injured], Tiaan Liebenberg, Gary Botha, Adriaan Strauss and Bandise Maku all in great form. Chiliboy’s selection is disrespectful to those hookers who deserve a call-up, as well as to the Bok team.
‘It’s sad for Chiliboy because he obviously doesn’t pick himself, yet he’s the one who has to suffer the consequences.
‘Chiliboy was a great player at age-group level and is earmarked to be the next Bok skipper, but this can’t justify his selection for the Cardiff Test. I can’t even remember what he brings to the field because I never see him play. He needs to go to a union where he will be the first-choice hooker and can prove to people that he deserves to be in the Springbok team.’
Robbie Kempson, former Springbok prop
‘Chiliboy’s selection for the Wales Test was criticised because of his lack of game time in the Super 14 but I didn’t have a problem with it. He’s been sidelined for a long time because of injuries, which has seen him drop below Gary Botha and Bandise Maku in the Bulls’ pecking order at hooker. But keeping him in the Bok mix will help with his development as a player and keep him exposed to the team structures.
‘Chiliboy will also learn from the best players in the country and have the guidance of the Bok coaching staff, who can explain exactly what they want from him. That’s the ideal mentoring an up-and-coming player needs.
‘Unfortunately, he will be under fire because people feel he hasn’t proved that he’s worth a Bok call-up. But if he can make a success out of it, he will win the respect of the public.
‘Chiliboy has to remain focused, work hard, and make the most of his opportunities. He’s a good player with plenty of potential, but he has to make the step up.’
– This article first appeared in the July issue of SA Rugby magazine