Ralepelle next to leave Loftus?
Pretoria - Springbok hooker Chiliboy Ralepelle
could be the latest player to leave the Bulls after a massive offer from France looks too difficult to refuse.
According to the supersport.com website
, Ralepelle would become the latest big name player to leave the Pretoria team should he accept, with several others already having announced their departure from Loftus Versfeld earlier in the year.
The hooker, who is known to be frustrated with not being selected for the Springboks after playing second-string to John Smit for so many years, has received a massive offer – from Toulouse and Toulon – and is giving it consideration while the Bulls are scrambling to keep him in Pretoria.
With the contractual situation already a minefield at the union, Ralepelle’s departure would be a massive loss especially as terms haven’t been agreed with any of his deputies at the moment.
Willie Wepener is still in talks with the Bulls but was one of the players who was offered close to half his salary to stay in Pretoria, while Callie Visagie is on loan from the Lions and no further news is known if he will stay on or return to Johannesburg after the Vodacom Super Rugby season ends.
Already the Bulls have lost Boks Morne Steyn (Racing Metro), Juandre Kruger (Stade Francais), Zane Kirchner (Leinster) and Jacques Potgieter (Japan). Wynand Olivier’s contract ends at the end of Super Rugby and the midfielder is also said to be leaving Loftus.
Potgieter announced through Beeld newspaper on Wednesday that he was released from his contract immediately to take up an offer with an unnamed British club.
Potgieter will continue to play in Japan but will return to England, and not South Africa when his season is finished.
Apart from that, rising star Francois Venter has still not agreed to a contract renewal, while in-form halfback Jano Vermaak was also offered half of what his current contract is to stay. Absa Currie Cup captain Dewald Potgieter is another whose contract has not been finalised as such.
In Ralepelle's case it is more the frustration of falling down the ladder in Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer’s eyes that has opened up the move. Ralepelle has been a loyal servant to SA Rugby for years, having to warm the bench for John Smit and then Bismarck du Plessis.
Once the new Bok coach was appointed, he fell further back behind Adriaan Strauss in the pecking order, despite playing some exceptional rugby and being one of the top candidates in the country for Springbok honours.
Ralepelle was also overlooked for a Springbok contract when they were announced last month.
He was the target of English clubs but had to say no as he could not fulfil the requirement of having played for the Springboks in the last 18 months.
Indications are that the Bulls are hard at work to retain the hooker, although High Performance Manager Xander Janse van Rensburg did not reply to repeated attempts to get comment on the hooker’s situation.
Ralepelle’s agent Gerrie Swart did also not reply to messages left on the matter.