Aphelele Fassi says he is keen to get on the playing field as he prepares for his first start in six months when the Sharks face the Lions in a Vodacom United Rugby Championship match on Saturday.
Fassi will be part of the Sharks team travelling to Johannesburg as South Africa’s teams resume the URC campaign this coming weekend.
The 23-year-old had a rollercoaster 2021, as he made a try-scoring Test debut for the Springboks against Georgia and also dotted down in his second Test start in the Rugby Championship against Argentina.
However, that Test in Gqeberha in August would be his last start of the year, as he went unused for the rest of the Rugby Championship and was released from the squad during the end-of-year tour of the United Kingdom.
Fassi was unable to play in the Sharks’ final URC match of the year against the Vodacom Bulls due to Covid-19 protocols, with his only game time coming off the bench the week before against the Cheetahs.
Speaking to the media after a training session in Durban, Fassi said he was excited to get back into action and finding his best form again.
“I have not played in a very long time and there is so much stuff that I learned when I was with the Boks that I want to transfer on to the field,” Fassi said.
“I’ve listened to the other guys about their experiences of the URC so far and I am just super excited to get out there this weekend and start putting in some good performances.”
Having been utilised at wing for the Springboks, Fassi is likely to shift back to his regular position at fullback on Saturday in a back three including Springbok teammates Makazole Mapimpi and Sbu Nkosi.
“Every player has a regular position. And moving from the Boks back into the [Sharks] set-up should not be too big a transition as I have two quality Bok wings alongside me in the back three to make that job easier.
“We are expecting a really fast game, the Lions love to play with intensity and tempo and with ball in hand,” he added.
“For some of us this will be the first time playing URC and that is really exciting. It’s been a tough two weeks of training in scorching heat after the time off and we have worked hard on the things we wanted to focus on after taking a good look at how the initial URC games went for us.”
Photo: Steve Haag/Gallo Images