At the back end of his career‚ hooker Chiliboy Ralepelle will captain the Sharks in the 2018 Currie Cup‚ the union has confirmed.
Ralepelle‚ who led the SA under-21 team to the world championship title in 2005 and captained the Springboks in a midweek game in 2006‚ is an obvious choice for the job.
Ralepelle was not only chosen by coach Robert du Preez‚ but by his peers as well. He will head a leadership group voted for by the players.
Apart from Ralepelle‚ the other players to form part of the leadership group are loose-forward Daniel du Preez‚ lock Hyron Andrews‚ prop John-Hubert Meyer‚ centre Marius Louw‚ flyhalf Robert du Preez Jnr and flank Tera Mtembu.
The 31-year-old Ralepelle made his debut for the Sharks in 2016 after starting his professional career with the Bulls.
In 2006‚ at the age of 19 he made his Springbok debut against the All Blacks and his leadership qualities and experience of play at the highest level will add value to the Sharks.
In terms of the coaching team‚ there is continuity from Super Rugby‚ with Robert du Preez heading up the campaign. Dick Muir (backline consultant)‚ Jaco Pienaar (forwards coach)‚ Braam van Straaten (defence) and AB Zondagh (skills) are Du Preez’s assistants.
One new addition to the Currie Cup coaching team sees former England international Nick Easter join for the campaign as breakdown coach.
Easter will assist Van Straaten with defence and Pienaar with the lineouts during the tournament.