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'Let's hope they are taking note': The fullback-wing combination Springbok fans want to see

By Sam Smith

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The Stormers and the Sharks latest draw in the United Rugby Championship put on show some of the most talented fullbacks in South Africa, with Aphelele Fassi going head-to-head with Damian Willemse.


Not to be forgotten, former Blue Bulls fullback Warrick Gelant also had a massive say in the match coming on as a reserve back for his new team the Stormers.

Capped by the Springboks last year, Aphelele Fassi combined with Makazole Mapimpi for a brilliantly worked try that had fans predicting the pair could be selected in the same positions for the Springboks.

The 24-year-old Sharks fullback set-up the try-scoring machine with a brilliant piece of skill, taking a pass under pressure before threading a perfectly placed grubber kick in for Mapimpi to grab.

The Sharks already possess the Springboks centre-wing combination of Luhkanyo Am and Mampimpi, so adding Fassi into the mix would only strengthen the combinations they have with their domestic club.


One fan explained that ‘nothing at all’ would justify not having Fassi together with Mapimpi in green and gold, while another compared the young Sharks fullback to former Springbok JP Pieterson.


Not to be outdone by the Sharks duo, the Stormers hit back when their pair of fullbacks combined down the right edge from a set-piece scrum in the second-half.

Former Bulls fullback Warrick Gelant expertly bounced to the outside to draw in Mapimpi before putting starting fullback Damian Willemse down the touchline. Willemse showed excellent poise to stay in the field of play and score in the corner to shock the Sharks.

It was again Gelant who came up with the match-defining play, this time doing the same move on Aphelele Fassi who gave away a penalty try by slapping down the offload from the Stormers’ supersub.

Fassi’s indiscretion allowed the Stormers to take seven points to tie the match at 22-all with time on the clock.

The game was a showcase of all the potential talent at the Springboks disposal in the backfield.

While Fassi debuted against Georgia last year, he was unable to get any other game time with the national side. Willemse struggled to get starts despite being in the Springboks squad for all of 2021.

He managed two starts, one against Argentina and was unlucky to be injured early in Cardiff against Wales in his other.

26-year-old Gelant hasn’t played for the Springboks since the pool stages of the 2019 World Cup against Canada.

Willie le Roux and Frans Steyn have been the preferred options for the Springboks and one of the storylines for 2022 will be whether any of the aging veterans can be surpassed by the young talents vying for more international game time.


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