News from the Boks camp is that both hooker Chiliboy Ralepelle and lock Eben Etzebeth are carrying injuries ahead of the Rugby Champioship opener against Argentina in less than a fortnight.
The Bulls hooker has a knee ligament strain, which is being looked at, but the more serious concern is for the big Stormers number 4, who sustained a hip cartilage injury during his side’s Super Rugby semi-final loss to the Sharks. The 20-year-old, who had just returned to the Stormers team for that match after a month out with an ankle complaint, will see a specialist in Joburg today to confirm the prognosis, but the early signs are that he may be in doubt for the series.
Coach Heyneke Meyer has mentioned a few likely replacements, with WP man Tiaan Liebenberg and (quite surprisingly) Sharks hooker Craig Burden both apparently in the frame for a call-up should Ralepelle cry off. Given that both Bismarck du Plessis and Adriaan Strauss are already ahead in the pecking order, the need for a third hooker is far less pressing, though, than for a starting number 4 lock. With few local options available, Meyer has indicated that he may be forced to call on veteran Bakkies Botha, currently playing for Toulon in France.
Sharks lad Piet-Steph du Toit received another honourable mention from the coach, but is himself recovering from ankle surgery at present and while Lions man Franco van der Merwe could receive another surprise call-up, the feeling is that he’s far more of a number 5 than a number 4.Tweet