The country’s wing stocks look very exciting at the moment, what with Aphiwe Dyantyi’s heroics in green and gold and the likes of Makazole Mapimpi and Sbu Nkosi just waiting to recover from their injuries before exploding on to the international stage once again.
But there is another hugely talented winger coming through in Aphelele Fassi, who happens to be a team-mate of Nkosi and Mapimpi at the Sharks.
The 20-year-old has burst on to the scene in this year’s Currie Cup and he says the key to his breakthrough has been learning from more experienced players like Nkosi, Lwazi Mvovo and Mapimpi, all of whom are Springboks.
“It’s been a great year for me and the one thing I keep telling myself is that I need to learn more. The likes of Sbu have been there at the highest level and playing with guys like him, Lwazi and Makazole, they have guided me as seniors.
“It’s all about learning and I’m here now because of that,” Fassi said.
“So I plan to learn even more and the coaching staff have given me all the support I need, they back me and I’m very grateful for the opportunities I’ve been given. As a player you intend to improve every time you run on the field and the Currie Cup is no different to the SuperSport Rugby Challenge in terms of speed and physicality, so I’ve set my game there, I’ve reached those levels.”
Perhaps the key to the great industry Fassi has shown out on the wing is that he actually prefers playing at fullback and also excelled at flyhalf for his school, Dale College in King William’s Town.
“I prefer fullback, but it’s about where the coach needs you. And obviously coming out of high school rugby, it’s not the same speed and physicality. So I’m working on my tackles, taking the high balls and my long clearance kicks,” Fassi, who also captained Dale at cricket and was a good enough all-rounder to earn junior provincial colours for Border.
Saturday’s game against the Golden Lions at Kings Park will provide another good measure of just how exciting a future Fassi has in rugby, as he comes up against a stellar backline featuring experienced Courtnall Skosan, Howard Mnisi, Lionel Mapoe and Andries Coetzee.