Fullback Gio Aplon says he hopes to help Jake White restore the Vodacom Bulls to their rightful place in South African rugby.
The fleet-footed Aplon made a name for himself at the Stormers in Cape Town, where he played for eight seasons from 2007 to 2014 before joining French club Grenoble.
In a surprise move, the 37-year-old has returned to South Africa to play for the Bulls, his former team’s bitter rivals. Aplon says the Stormers will always be special to him, but he has moved past the well-established north-south rivalry and his dedication now lies with the Pretoria side.
‘You can never erase my time at the Stormers. They will always be a big part of my story. They were the union that gave me a chance to play,’ Aplon told Sport24.
‘But I’m excited to play for the Bulls and be part of the project Jake [White, director of rugby] has got there and where they want to take the Bulls. They want to re-establish the Bulls in South African rugby as a … I won’t say giant … but to take its rightful place in rugby – to challenge for [Vodacom] Super Rugby and become a world-leading franchise.
‘The older you get and playing overseas, you move past the rivalry. It will always be there and you’ll never take that for granted but, the older you are, it becomes a privilege to play professional rugby.
‘One can’t be too picky about where you want play and think too much about rivalry. It’s about the privilege to play the game at this level and at this age.’