The running threat of talented Aphelele Fassi was a season-defining feature for the Sharks before the shutdown of Vodacom Super Rugby, writes CRAIG LEWIS.
With sports and the large majority of society in lockdown due to the Covid-19 pandemic, it has provided the time for reflection and review.
Over the first seven rounds of Super Rugby, it was certainly the Sharks who provided plenty of exciting action to unpack as the Durban-based side managed to rise to the top of the overall standings before the suspension of competition.
It would have been fascinating to see if the Sharks would have been able to maintain their winning form through to the business end of the season, with Fassi in particular providing a different edge to the Sharks’ ball-in-hand threat.
While the Durban-based side certainly racked up some eye-catching tries over the first part of their campaign, a number of these came from moments of individual brilliance as well as an astute kicking game.
Curwin Bosch has proved a real threat with his superbly weighted, attacking crosskicks, and the Sharks have also been excellent when making the most of contesting the aerial battle.
Yet, what also set the Sharks apart in 2020 has been their ability to punish teams through the fleet-footed dynamism of Fassi, who has been only too happy to take on fractured defensive systems when the opportunity arises.
As the season statistics to date highlight, the talented 22-year-old is by far the leading player when it comes to metres carried (622), and is also ranked second for defenders beaten (33), third for carries (75) and fifth for clean breaks (12).
Indeed, it’s his roaming threat from fullback that has allowed the Sharks to strike from deep, whereas so often in the past you would see them rather opting for the safety-first option of putting boot to ball.
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