Aphelele Fassi might still be new to many Cell C Sharks rugby fans, but if his early form in the Currie Cup (and the warm-up match against Bordeaux Begles) is anything to go by, he’s destined to become a household name.
“It’s been a great year for me so far, but one thing I keep telling myself is that I need to keep learning,” he explains of his desire to become a stalwart in a side brimming with talent.
“With the likes of Sbu Nkosi being there, he’s someone I can learn a lot from. That’s the big thing, it’s all about learning and the position I’m in now is thanks to what I’ve learnt and I will be applying myself to learning even more.”
The Cell C Sharks coaching staff haven’t been scared to throw the 20 year old into action and he’s been given numerous opportunities to prove himself capable. He hasn’t failed in that respect.
“I’ve been given all the support I need, the coaches have backed me and I am very grateful for all the opportunities they’ve given me,” he says.
Having a player like Lwazi Mvovo, like Fassi, equally happy and adept on the wing or at fullback, has been something of a gift for the young player, having an experienced mentor to gain knowledge from.
“Players like Lwazi, as seniors, have guided me and I take every opportunity to learn from them and then applying that knowledge into my game.”
Although we’ve seen him predominantly playing at wing, he has played lots of his junior rugby in the number 15 jersey.
“It’s all about where the coach selects you and I’m happy to play whatever role I can to contribute, but I am happiest at fullback.”
He was also a more decent cricketer at schoolboy level, representing his province as a medium paced bowler, batting at number three, but fortunately for the Cell C Sharks, he stuck with the oval ball instead.
“I chose rugby because it’s my first passion and the offers I received were better,” he admits with honesty. “And to be honest I think I’m better at rugby than cricket.”
The transition from schoolboy rugby to Curie Cup has been somewhat meteoric but he’s had plenty of opportunity this year to develop his game.
“As a player, you want to improve every time you run onto the pitch and although I started off in the SuperSport Challenge earlier this year, Currie Cup isn’t too dissimilar and I’m happy with things. The physicality and speed of the two tournaments is pretty much the same.”
Although he looks to be completely comfortable in a provincial Currie Cup jersey, he admits that there are areas that he is looking to improve on.
“My tackling and kicking out of hand – as a fullback, those are the things I believe one should work on.”
The Cell C Sharks will host the Golden Lions this Saturday at JONSSON KINGS PARK and there have been some insights to gain out of the Lions loss to Western Province.
“Looking at the Lions, they have experienced players, a number of Springboks in their squad which is similar to our side, but if, like Western Province who capitalised on the Lions mistakes last weekend, we do the same, then we should have a good game.”