Bulls players’ drug probe, Stormers key men return

2011-01-14 00:00

THE drug allegations against the two Blue Bull Springboks, record-breaking wing Bjorn Basson and hooker Chiliboy Ralepelle, will be investigated by the SA Rugby Union in Cape Town on January 25.

The players tested positive for the prohibited stimulant methylhexaneamine following the Test against Ireland in Dublin last November and will appear before a Saru judicial committee of two advocates, chairman Jannie Lubbe and Rob Stelzner, and Dr George van Dugteren.

They were sent home from Ireland and have been provisionally suspended from all rugby activities under IRB regulations until the resolution of the case.

Basson, who has joined the Blue Bulls from Griquas this year, and Ralepelle have been unable to train with the Super 14 champions because of the suspension.

The Stormers, meanwhile, have had both good and bad news ahead of the Super Rugby competition.

Allister Coetzee, the Stormers coach, said that a host of players will be back from injury. Coetzee said the injuries to Schalk Burger, Juan de Jongh and Ricky January badly affected the team in the Currie Cup final against the Sharks — they lost 30-10.

“But the positive thing is that the injuries have meant a long break for these three Springboks. It was a problem for us at the time, but the guys are now extra fresh and well prepared for the Super 15.”

Other high profile players, Andries Bekker, Tiaan Liebenberg and Duane Vermeulen, have also recovered from injury.

But the Stormers could be without Springbok flank Francois Louw for the start of the Super 15. Louw tore a hamstring at training on Tuesday and could be out for four to six weeks.

He will certainly miss the pre-season triangular series involving the Stormers, Sharks and Lions at the end of the month.

Springbok centre Jaque Fourie could also miss the warm-up games. Fourie, who has been nursing a damaged foot and missed the end of the Currie Cup season and the Bok tour of the UK, will only return to training next Monday.

Flyhalf Peter Grant, who has been playing his rugby in Japan, only returns to Cape Town at the end of the month and he could also miss the friendlies against the Sharks and Lions.

Coetzee told reporters in Cape Town that he is delighted with the depth in the Stormers squad.

“In this competition your depth is tested to the utmost. With extra local derbies, this year will be extra physical.

“We now have an established group with several certain choices. CJ van der Linde (Bok prop) has been pulled in at tighthead prop which will take a lot of pressure off Brok Harris,” he said.

“We have a few players who are competing for several positions in the starter team. It is a healthy situation to have. No one can become too comfortable.

“For instance, Gio Aplon is as good on wing as at fullback and I can use him with great confidence in either position.

“Danie Poolman, JJ Engelbrecht and Bryan Habana give us further depth at wing. Between Lionel Cronjé, Gary van Aswegen and Elgar Watts there is competition to assist Peter Grant at flyhalf. Elgar has impressed me very much so far.”

“And we’re also sitting with three Springbok centres [De Jongh, Fourie and Jean de Villiers]. I won’t pick one of them on wing just because I can.

“Our opposition, where we want to attack, how we want to defend and who is currently on form are all factors playing a role in team choices.”

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