Ken Borland
Sports Journalist
2 minute read
3 Jul 2021
1:34 pm

Bok wing Fassi on debut try: ‘I had to just back myself’

Ken Borland

"Mzwandile Stick (backline coach) gave me the confidence during the week to back myself and just finish off whatever opportunities I get."

Debutant wing Aphelele Fassi of the Springboks on his way to scoring a try in his first Test, against Georgia on Friday. Picture: Sydney Seshibedi/Gallo Images

Debutant Springbok wing Aphelele Fassi has spent the last couple of weeks fielding congratulatory phone calls from King Williams Town and Dale College wishing him good luck for the start of his international career.

The Eastern Cape has been very proud of the 23-year-old ever since he started making waves at the Sharks, and many observers believe he is a unique talent, with a combination of physical attributes that is seldom seen.

And Lady Luck certainly had her eyes on the prodigious young talent as he scored with his first touch in Test rugby in the first Test against Georgia at Loftus Versfeld on Friday, a game the Boks won 40-9.

Not that luck had too much to do with it though as Fassi showed, while galloping down the touchline, the many attributes he has – good hands to take the pass slightly behind him, a massive stride, great feet, searing pace and clinical finishing ability.

Springbok wing Aphelele Fassi scores a try on debut against Georgia

Springbok wing Aphelele Fassi on his way to scoring a try on debut against Georgia in Pretoria on Friday. Picture: Sydney Seshibedi/Gallo Images

Just before halftime, he set up the Springboks’ third try with his clever chip infield just to showcase a kicking game befitting a former schoolboy flyhalf star.

“When I first got the ball, I just saw space in front of me and my first instinct was to just back myself and go for the try,” Fassi said after the Test.

“Mzwandile Stick (backline coach) gave me the confidence during the week to back myself and just finish off whatever opportunities I get. I’m very proud to represent my country and I’ve had people from back at school and home phoning me to wish me good luck, including the principal.

ALSO READ:  Rusty Boks make pleasing return to Test action

“In my first Currie Cup game, I did the same thing. And I did visualise it again on my bed in the hotel this week, but you don’t really think it’s going to happen. And then it all happened so quickly. It’s a moment I will cherish for a long time.”

The lanky (1.89m) athlete has usually played at fullback in senior rugby but he also made his Currie Cup debut for the Sharks on the wing back in 2018 and also scored an impressive counter-attacking try, following a mistake by the Bulls.

The Springbok family looks to have welcomed a new star, one that will hopefully follow in the footsteps of all-time leading try-scorer Bryan Habana, who also scored with his first touch in Test rugby, against England in 2004.

“It’s been fantastic being part of the Springbok environment and the senior guys have obviously given me plenty of guidance. I feel very comfortable in this set-up,” Fassi said.

And he certainly looked very comfortable out on the field as well.