Bok boss drops major fullback hint
IN THE SPOTLIGHT: South Africa head coach Jacques Nienaber has hinted that Aphelele Fassi could don the Springboks No.15 this season.
The coach had plenty of praise for Fassi following his performance against Argentina on Saturday.
In his first Rugby Championship match and just his second Test for the Springboks, Fassi played a huge role during the 32-12 win over Los Pumas in Gqeberha.
The 23-year-old showed impressive skills when he latched onto Elton Jantjies’ cross-field kick for his second international try – handing the Boks a 15-3 lead.
Fassi, who plays fullback at the Sharks, has been used at wing by Nienaber, a move that seems to benefit the young playmaker.
Speaking to reporters via a virtual media briefing, Nienaber admitted that Fassi has been incredible at wing however the plan is to eventually move him to fullback.
The coach explained Fassi’s current position is to help him get up to speed with the demands of Test rugby.
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“Aphelele is an unbelievably talented player,” Nienaber said.
“He is a fullback, but a fullback and wing should have the same skill set, facing high balls, making decisions and finishing.
“The thing is it’s similar to a Dan Carter situation. When Dan Carter got into the All Blacks, he was a flyhalf at his club, but he started at 12, almost taking the decision-making role away from him and he was just executing and learning from the player on his inside which was the flyhalf, Andrew Mehrtens, at that stage.
“Although Aphelele trains at fullback, he is currently playing wing for us, which has a similar skill set to 15,”
He added: “We have just taken the decision-making role a little bit away from him. It’s not that he makes bad decisions, but it’s about getting him into the mix, allowing him to get used to the game, the physicality.
“I believe he will play a lot of Test matches for South Africa at 15 because he is a quality player and there is a bright future for him.
“He may get a chance to play fullback later in the season,”
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One thing about South Africa’s performance was the huge improvement in the aerial battle
The area was a major concern heading into the opener, however, Fassi, along with Sbu Nkosi and Damian Willemse managed it really well.
Nienaber admitted credit had to go to backline coach Mzwandile Stick, who work tremendously hard with the players.
“I must give Mzwandile Stick the credit,” Nienaber said.
“Stick works with the players every single day and puts in a massive effort.
“He is the one who works with the guys and he is running that department like a Trojan,”