Springbok Aphelele Fassi has opened up about his dream Test debut against Georgia at Loftus Versfeld on Friday night. MARIETTE ADAMS reports.
South Africa made a triumphant return to the Test arena, their first foray since being crowned world champions 20 months ago when they hammered England 32-12 in the World Cup final in Japan.
This time around, it was Georgia who were on the receiving end of a Springbok lashing, losing 40-9 in Pretoria. And while it wasn’t the perfect performance from the Boks, it was the perfect debut for Fassi, who went on to score a try with his first touch of the ball.
Speaking during a virtual post-match media conference, Fassi said he had just trusted his instincts and decided to back himself when he got the ball.
“I saw some space in front of me and the first thing I thought was just backing myself and going for the try. One of the coaches, Mzwandile Stick, gave me confidence during the week to just back myself. So, the first thing I thought was just trying to finish off the try,” he said.
“Special moment for me. Special moment for me. The team was brilliant in cleaning up and allowing me to score.”
“The same thing happened [scoring on debut] when I played my first Currie Cup game. I visualised it when I was sitting in my bed at the hotel. I didn’t think it would happen. Everything happened so quickly, I just decided to back my instincts. It’s something I’ll cherish for a long time.”
Fassi, a fullback, had made his Bok debut on the wing and delivered a man-of-the-match performance despite playing out of position. Commenting on making the step up from franchise to international rugby, he said: “I’m very proud to make my Springbok debut and representing my country.
“You know, every young kid that plays rugby has that dream to represent their country and I’m proud to do so. A few people from back at school have called me and just wished me luck. The principal of Dale [College] called when the team was announced and wished me luck and it was much appreciated.”
The 23-year-old was also hyped to be in the Bok environment, where he has been welcomed with open arms.
“It’s just good to be in the system,” he said. “It’s been fantastic for me. The senior players that are around have obviously guided me in the type of way that I don’t feel uncomfortable. I feel very comfortable in this set-up.”