Blue Bulls Vodacom Cup hooker Chiliboy Ralepelle will be the shock inclusion in the enlarged Springbok squad announced on 13 May.
Bok coach Jake White told Die Burger’s Herbert Pretorius that he wants to invite the 19-year-old hooker to the Boks’ training camp in Bloemfontein. He is even considering including Ralepelle for the Bok team to play against Scotland.
Ralepelle’s inclusion means that neither Gary Botha nor Schalk Brits will be in the extended squad. John Smit and Hanyani Shimange are White’s top two hookers at the moment.
“I have no say in the compilation of South Africa’s Super 14 teams and that’s why it’s not my fault that he isn’t playing for the Bulls,” said the coach. “Chiliboy has proven himself at U19 and U21 level and I believe he’s good enough to repeat his performance at senior level. Remember that the hooker he played against in last year’s U21 World Cup final is the Australian Tatafu Polota-Nau, who has already played Test rugby for the Wallabies.”
Ralepelle played in both the U19 and the U21 World Championship victories. He was also named SA Rugby’s U19 player of the year.
“I’d like to see how he performs in a team with big locks, for example, Bakkies Botha and Johan Ackermann behind him and big props like Os du Randt and CJ van der Linde alongside him in the scrums. I’m sure he’ll cope,” White said.
White said Brits, who has been the Stormers first-choice hooker this year, would have to work harder on his scrumming technique and line-out throw-ins.
â€œAt Test level you want a hooker who excels in those two facets and not as much someone who can run well with the ball in hand,â€ he said. â€œI must experiment with several new players and combinations, because I canâ€™t possibly select my strongest possible team for all 12 Tests.”