The Sharks have slammed a report suggesting that there was a ‘coach row’ following the omission of Chiliboy Ralepelle during the latter stages of the Currie Cup.
In an article in the Sunday Times, Sharks coach Robert du Preez was accused of poor player management, while questions were raised over the decision to overlook Ralepelle upon his return to the Durban-based side from the Boks. Ralepelle had been on the Bok bench for the home matches against the Wallabies and All Blacks, but did not get a single minute of game time.
Du Preez opted for Franco Marais as his starting hooker for the Sharks’ Currie Cup semi-final and the final, with Akker van der Merwe on the bench.
The Sharks said the Sunday Times story was sensationalistic and had ‘no merit’.
‘The Sharks have nothing to hide; therefore we would like to share with the public, our full response to the newspaper, as well as other facts regarding the non-selection of Chiliboy Ralepelle for the Currie Cup playoffs and the alleged unhappiness amongst ‘certain players’ according to an unnamed source,’ a statement read.
‘During the 2017 rugby season Chiliboy Ralepelle played the most minutes at hooker during the 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.
‘Going into the playoffs players were given an opportunity to prove themselves and team management selected the strongest team on merit. Based on Chiliboy’s performance, the decision was made to go with Franco Marais and Akker van der Merwe for the semi-final, who were consistent performers throughout the campaign.’
The Sharks said they had met with Ralepelle to engage with him regarding his concerns over his non-selection, while providing an opportunity for him to ask any questions he had.
‘Our policy is always to be open and transparent with our players. Our environment demands a strong work ethic, respect for each other and our jersey.
‘It is disappointing that an incident which was addressed and resolved by the parties concerned is being highlighted to push personal agendas.
‘Our players know that there is an open door policy at the Sharks and should there be any grievances they are most welcome to address those concerns with our senior management who are always willing and available to engage constructively. Therefore if there were any concerns on the part of players, it is perplexing to understand why they would remain anonymous rather than approach management with their concerns.’
Photo: Steve Haag/Gallo Images