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Nienaber explains Fassi's omission

SPOTLIGHT: Springbok head coach Jacques Nienaber has opened up on Aphelele Fassi’s absence in the year-end Test match against Wales on Saturday.

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With wing Sibusiso Nkosi missing Saturday’s Test due to passport and visa issues, many speculated that Fassi will feature as one of the changes in the back three.

However, Nienaber selected Jesse Kriel on the right wing and Makazole Mapimpi retained the No.11 jersey.

While Damian Willemse will start at fullback in place of Willie le Roux in a rotational switch.

The highly-touted Fassi made his  Test debut for the Springboks against Georgia in July and scored his first international try.

He added to his try tally in his second Test for the Boks against Argentina during the Rugby Championship opener in  Port Elizabeth.

Speaking to reporters in a media briefing, Nienaber admitted that Fassi’s omission was a very difficult decision.

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However, the coach revealed Kriel’s experience was the main reason behind the selection.

“Jesse played wing for us before, so it’s not an experiment,” Nienaber said.

“We’ve seen what he can do when he started at wing against the All Blacks in 2018 in Wellington.

“Furthermore with the rotation at fullback [Willemse replacing experienced Le Roux], Jesse with his 49 Test caps bring in some organisational skills and experience. He has also been training really well,”

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When asked if the young Sharks fullback will eventually get an opportunity in the Green and Gold on tour, Nienaber said: “If all goes according to plan there might be an opportunity for Fassi.

“We as coaches have a specific plan in mind for these three games but with the rugby, the ball is not round it is oval so you get weird bounces sometimes. Thus, we will never say never.

“He has specific skill set and attributes that he brings to the party, so it was an extremely tough decision,”

The coach said Fassi was disappointed but took the news really well.

“We are open and honest, there are no one-on-ones we literally do the team selection and explanations in front of everybody.

“Having said that he was a bit disappointed, but looking forward to helping the matchday 23,”

@rugby365com

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