VIDEO: Bulls Bok's career could be over
Springbok Gio Aplon’s illustrious career may have come to an unexpected end at Loftus Versfeld this past Friday.
Aplon was assisted from the field in the 25th minute of his team’s 32-27 Currie Cup win over the Pumas.
He had injured his left knee – a reoccurrence of the season-ending anterior cruciate ligament injury he suffered during the Bulls’ 17-19 defeat to the Cheetahs in a Super Rugby Unlocked Round Two clash in Bloemfontein back in October.
Aplon had only just returned to the playing field, after recovering from that setback and the immediate post-match prognoses were not good.
Bulls Director of Rugby Jake White admitted the full extent of the latest setback will only be known later, but hinted that Aplon’s career may be over.
“It doesn’t look good,” was White’s blunt assessment.
He said Aplon “worked hard” on his rehabilitation – following the October setback – in a rush to get back on the field.
“He spent every day in the gym with the [Bulls’] rehabilitation staff,” he told @rugby365com.
“He so badly wanted to be part of the team again,” White said of Aplon’s previous knee injury.
It is another blow for the Bulls, who already have an extended injury list – with players like Sidney Tobias, Travis Ismaiel, Diego Appollis and Sintu Manjezi.
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“I knew it [suffering injuries] was going to happen,” White said, adding: “We are playing so much rugby.
“The physicality is taking its toll on everybody.
At 38 Aplon is going to struggle to get back in the game and a serious question mark is now hanging over his playing career.
“I want to stress, he was always helping me out as a senior player,” the Bulls boss told @rugby365com.
White pointed to the need for a senior player to assist the youngsters in the backline and that was the role Aplon was going to fulfil.
“I realised I needed an older, wiser guy to come into our team.
“He knew it was always a risk for him. He is a fantastic human being and always wanted to be part of it.
“He should have played 100 Tests for South Africa.
“If it is finished, it is probably not the ideal way to finish.”
Aplon played the last of his 17 Tests for the Springboks when he faced England at Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium, Port Elizabeth, in June 2012.
The veteran back had played 90-odd games for Western Province and 80-odd for the Stormers, before he headed abroad – where he played for Grenoble (60-odd games) and Verblitz (30 games).
Aplon captained Verblitz, coached by White, to a Japan Cup triumph, before heading back to South Africa.
He was injured in just his second appearance for the Bulls back in October and his brief comeback again ended in a possible career-ending injury.