‘Chiliboy’ relishes role at the Cup

2011-09-17 14:50

The Rugby World Cup has so far been an eye-opener as well as an exciting experience for Springbok hooker Mahlatse “Chiliboy” Ralepelle.

The player believes it’s up to him to make the most of the opportunity that he has been given.

When he was included in the South African squad for the tour to the Northern Hemisphere in 2006, Ralepelle was named as captain for the last match of the tour against the World XV at Walkers Stadium in Leicester – thus becoming the first black and the youngest player at 20 to captain the national team.

The 25-year old made his debut against the All Blacks at Loftus in 2006. But with the most experienced hooker and captain in world rugby, John Smit, and arguably the best hooker currently playing the game in Bismarck du Plessis ahead of him in the pecking order for a starting berth in the Bok side, Ralepelle says it’s all just about him being patient and waiting for that special moment.

“I have to ask myself, do I drop my head and sulk. Or do I pick my head up and make sure I help the rest of the team to reach their goals,” Ralepelle said at the Bok’s hotel this week.

The Bulls’?hooker says he is there to support and learn as much as possible from Smit and Du Plessis.

“I am more than happy to carry the tackle bags on the field and offer resistance to their leg drives, when they do the drills on the training field.

“It’s definitely been challenging for me so far. But I am here to offer my ­whole-hearted support. The World Cup so far has been an exciting experience for me thus far and it’s up to me to make the most of the opportunity that I have been given.

“I must say it’s been pretty tough for me but at the end of the day the coach makes the call for the benefit of the team.

And if my role is to hold contact shields at practice, then I’m more than willing to do that. But ultimately you would also like to get on the field and play. One just has to be patient and wait for the moment. And if it finally arrives I must make sure that I grab it with both hands,” he said.

Ralepelle had a very good season in the Super Rugby competition with the Bulls and says it has done wonders for his confidence.

“I have struggled quite a bit with injuries in the past but so far I have been able to stay injury-free throughout a long and hard season. I was worried that my body was not going to hold out, but I have worked extremely hard at improving my conditioning. The hard work has definitely paid off. Every moment I get to be on the park, I just get stronger and stronger.

“I had to put things into perspective, besides making sure that I am physically stronger and also had to work on my mental and spiritual side of my life.

The time that I had off earlier in the year has helped me to re-gather my strengths in those departments,” Ralepelle added.

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