Select Edition

Northern Northern
Southern Southern
Global Global

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

By Sam Smith

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.


Join free



Trending on RugbyPass


Be the first to comment...

Join free and tell us what you really think!

Sign up for free

Latest Features

Comments on RugbyPass

Jon 1 hours ago
How Maro Itoje terrorised the All Blacks lineout

Yeah England were much smarter, they put their much vaster experience to use in both the scrum (bending/not taking hit) and lineout (Itoje early sacks) law vagaries. Really though, I know what is there, I’m more worried about Englands locks. We only got to see Itoje and Martin, right? Depth allround in the England camp was probably the difference in the series and the drop off when Itoje reached his minutes limit for the season (it was like the plug was pulled from the charger) was up there with keeping Sexton on the park in that quarter final. What happened there? You have a lot of watching hours experience with locks come blindsides Nick, especially with a typical Australian player make up, have you see a six the size of Barrett absolutely dominate the position and his opposition? I can easily see Scott, and even Martin for that matter, moving to the blindside and playing like Tadgh Beirne with the amount of top locks we have coming through to partner Patrick. Still with the English mindset, because despite running the best All Black team I’ve seen in a long time close, they do need to find improvement, and although I thought they had a lot of good performances from their 7’s (over the years), I really like the prospect of Cunningham-South in his 8 spot and Earl on the open. Can you see Martin as mobile enough to take over Lawes? I absolutely loved his aggression when Jordie ran upto him to try and grab the ball. That alone is enough reason for me to try him there.

20 Go to comments
FEATURE Mick Cleary: 'There is now a clear sense of identity about this England team.' Mick Cleary: 'There is now a clear sense of identity about this England team.'