Sport / Rugby

Ross Roche
Senior sports writer
2 minute read
3 Nov 2021
2:43 pm

Boks must fight for their spots, says coach Nienaber

Ross Roche

Nienaber admitted that Fassi was disappointed to miss out on selection, as were all the players who didn’t make the match 23.

Fullback Aphelele Fassi during a Springbok training session in Wales this week. Picture: Steve Haag/Gallo Images

Receiving a Test cap for the national team means something nowadays, Springbok coach Jacques Nienaber believes, saying players have to wait for their opportunity to shine.

Nienaber was explaining his decision to back Damian Willemse at fullback over exciting youngster Aphelele Fassi – with Willie le Roux set for a mentorship role on tour – after naming the match 23 to take on Wales at the Principality Stadium in Cardiff on Saturday.

Fassi could be in line for a chance at some point, however, with growing calls for the Sharks fullback to get an opportunity to prove his worth.

ALSO READ: Willemse gets ‘extended opportunity’ as Willie plays mentoring role

“We don’t want to make caps easy. You must always work hard to get a Test cap, and the players do,” said Nienaber.

“It’s tough to leave somebody out of this team currently and we are fortunate to be in that position.

“You really have to work hard and be patient and continue working hard to get a shot in the 23, so it was tough because obviously he’s (Fassi) got specific skills and attributes that he brings to the party.

“We’ve got a specific plan in mind for these three games, but if things go according to plan there might be an opportunity.”

Nienaber admitted that Fassi was disappointed to miss out on selection, as were all of the players who didn’t make the match 23, but their job was not over yet and they now had to support the playing squad.

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“Everyone takes the decisions well because we are open and honest,” he said.

“There are no one-on-ones with the players. We do the team selection and explanation in front of everyone. We speak openly and honestly about the team selection so everybody understands our thought process.

“But it is very competitive, so there is disappointment. There must be disappointment. If you’re not disappointed if you don’t make the match-day 23 you shouldn’t be in this squad.

“But the moment you are not selected your job is not done. You now have another job and your job is to prepare this team and to give input to the 23 that has been selected.”