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Right now my focus is on the Sharks, says Aphelele Fassi after Springbok exclusion

Right now my focus is on the Sharks, says Aphelele Fassi after Springbok exclusion

Johannesburg — At the moment, Aphelele Fassi is nonplussed by his non-selection in the Springbok squad; and that isn’t entirely a bad thing.

The 24-year-old Bok played only one match for the senior national men’s team this year — back in July when they lost to Wales 13-12 in Bloemfontein.

Since then, the utility-back — who stated outright on Tuesday that his preferred position is in the No 15 jumper — has somewhat fallen foul of the graces of the Bok management, with Kurt-Lee Arendse and Canan Moodie favoured in his absence.

The apparent snub has created some fierce debate amongst fans, who have questioned the reasoning behind the decision.

“Everyone wants to be in that set-up,” Fassi admitted, “but my focus is all on the Sharks family. I definitely want to do better things at the moment at the Sharks.”

The general consensus amongst pundits and commentators alike — and in the absence of any official word from the Bok think-tank — is that while Fassi is excellent on attack and with front-foot ball, he needs to work on apparent defensive frailties, especially if he is to slot in at fullback.

During the briefing on Tuesday ahead of the Sharks’ United Rugby Championship (URC) match against the Dragons on Saturday (8.35pm kick-off) at Rodney Parade in Newport, Fassi remained pragmatic regarding that disputed point.

Said Fassi: “Everyday when you go onto the training field, it is about improving your game in different areas …

“There isn’t much that I can identify where I need to strongly improve. I need to give better direction where it is needed. There isn’t much specifically that I need to focus on, really.”

Fassi and Co nearly let slip a certain victory against Italian outfit Zebre this past weekend in the URC. After commanding the match 28-8, they eventually battled to a 42-37 victory after a Zebre surge in the second half. Their opposition this weekend, meanwhile, will be a levelled-up beast to slay.

Sure, Dragons finished 15th last season, but they will be no doubt buoyed by a surprising 23-17 triumph over the mighty Munster on Sunday. The Sharks will, therefore, be aware that they cannot allow a repeat performance as the one witnessed during the second stanza against Zebre.

“One thing we knew was that Zebre, after the result that they had against Leicester (a narrow 33-29 loss), they were going to come out firing in the second half.

“What we learnt from that, is that we should just stick to our plan. Having the perfect first half start that we had against Zebre, and going into this game against Dragons, is just about sticking to the plan and not deviating away from what we want to achieve.”

The Sharks will be able to select from a full-strength squad for the encounter. Fassi’s half-time substitution in the Zebre clash was also precautionary, and he will be fit to start this weekend.

Fassi, despite his sensible stance, will also have an eye of impressing the Bok selectors in the coming weeks as he pushes for a spot in the squad for the Year End tour.


IOL Sport

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