DURBAN – The Sharks have insisted that Springbok hooker Chiliboy Ralepelle’s omission from the Sharks squad for the Currie Cup semi-final and final was simply a matter of form, and that a Sunday newspaper’s claim that there was unhappiness in the squad is incorrect.
An unnamed source said in a weekend report that players were unhappy with the coaching style of coach Robert du Preez.
Ralepelle was on the bench for the Springboks’ Rugby Championship match against New Zealand in Cape Town, and when he returned to the Sharks for the Currie Cup, he played off the bench in the final pool match of the season, against Western Province in Durban, but was not selected for the semi-final.
Sharks coach Robert du Preez preferred Franco Marais and Akker van der Merwe to the 31-year-old Ralepelle, who has 22 caps for the Boks.
In a statement, the Sharks said: “Chiliboy Ralepelle played the most minutes at hooker during the 2017 Super Rugby campaign, and also received sufficient game time when he was available during the Currie Cup.
“In our final pool match against Western Province, Chiliboy’s performance was below standard, and this was addressed with the player.”
The Sharks contend that Ralepelle was given an opportunity to play his way into the side for the semi-final, and the coach then picked a match-23 based on merit and form.
The Sharks add that Ralepelle had raised concerns about his non-selection, and in a meeting, was given clear reasons for this and an opportunity to ask any questions.
“Our policy is always to be open with our players. Our environment demands a strong work ethic, respect for each other and our jersey,” the statement continued.
“There is a vision that our young team is working towards, and discipline is paramount.
“The environment created has taken us to the Currie Cup final in year one, and this is just the beginning of where we want to be as a group.
“We have a loyal group of players who have bought into a strong vision, and this is evident in the fact that 27 of our current players have re-signed within the last few months and have committed their long-term futures to the Sharks.
“If players were unhappy, why would they recommit?
“Our players know that we have an open-door policy, and should there be any grievances, they are most welcome to address those concerns with our senior management.
“Therefore, if there were any concerns on the part of players, it is perplexing that they would remain anonymous rather than approach management.”