Bulls thrilled to have drug duo back for Super15

Springboks Chiliboy Ralepelle and Bjorn Basson’s return to the Bulls’ squad is a huge relief, coach Frans Ludeke said on Friday.

“We are very glad and relieved that both players will be able to play for us in a competition where player-depth is going to be so important,” he said.

“This decision is really a huge boost to the Bulls and we are relieved that this ordeal is over.”

A judicial committee ruled on Friday that Ralepelle and Basson could immediately return to playing rugby after finding “no fault” on their part for their positive tests for a banned stimulant.

The players were charged under anti-doping regulations and were provisionally suspended after testing positive for methylhexaneamine (MHA) following the Test against Ireland in Dublin on November 6.

“We would like to thank all the relevant stake-holders for their efforts in ensuring justice prevailed,” Ludeke said.

“Chili and Bjorn are players with international experience and their experience will play a key role in our campaign aspirations this year,” he said.

Neither player was allowed to train with the team until the matter was resolved.

However, Ludeke, said they had continued to work hard on their own and were ready for action.

“What has impressed me most about Chiliboy is his positive attitude,” said Ludeke.

“He continued to train hard even though he was not allowed to be near the team and I’m sure he will reap the benefits this year.”

Ludeke said that he could not include either of the players in his squad for Saturday’s warm-up match against the Kings in Port Elizabeth, as he was not sure of the final verdict in the doping saga.

As a result, Basson would have to wait another week to make his Bulls’ debut when the team travelled to Nelspruit for their second, and final, pre-season warm-up match.

Ralepelle was also expected to get some much needed game-time in that match, against a Premier XV squad consisting of mostly Pumas’ players.

The Springbok hooker, who is yet to earn three consecutive starting caps for his provincial team at Currie Cup or Super Rugby level, staged one of the greatest comebacks before the doping saga.

In 2010 Ralepelle recovered from a stress fracture to his foot and played Vodacom Cup rugby to regain confidence.

He went on to represent the Blue Bulls in the Currie Cup before playing for the Springboks in the Tri-Nations.

“He showed last year that he is a person who takes great pride in what he does and that he has a lot to offer both on and off the field,” said Ludeke.

Meanwhile, the Bulls announced on Friday that lock Juandre Kruger had dislocated his little finger in training and had to undergo surgery.

Kruger was ruled out for four weeks.

His place in Saturday’s warm-up match would be filled by Cornell Hess, with Andries Ferreira replacing Hess on the bench.

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