Gio Aplon wants players to be judged on their merits and not their jersey size.
“I know that stats show what size brings, but you need to judge what is going on between the four lines and, if the player brings something extraordinary, why not give him a chance?” the Stormers winger told reporters yesterday.
Arguably the most gifted open-field runner ever to launch a Stormers counter-attack, Aplon will join French club Grenoble shortly after the clash against the Sharks at Newlands on Saturday.
Finally free of a media muzzle, the 17-Test Springbok, shared his insightful perspective based on a decade of senior rugby at Western Province.
“I’m not saying you must pick every single small guy, but if there’s ability and potential, and he can do exactly what the other players are doing, why not give him a chance?”
Aplon, who will be remembered for making defenders miss tackles with his jaw-dropping agility, has played a significant part in nurturing his successor, Cheslin Kolbe.
“He is definitely the guy for the future,” Aplon said of his 1.71-metre understudy. “At the age of 20, he possesses a lot more qualities than I had when I started. The most important thing is that he gets judged on his rugby ability and not his size.”
Aplon confirmed that the Stormers game plan will feature Kolbe’s explosiveness in the future.
“Coming from being very conservative for a few years and making semi-finals through that approach, we want to be a bit more expansive in the future. I think we have the personnel to do that and the team has got the mind-set now of playing attacking rugby in the right areas.
“You definitely need a bit of X-factor in semi-finals, but you also need to take into account that we had a lot of success with conservative rugby. That’s how a lot of teams play and they have success with that.
“The stats prove that the team that kicks the most wins the most, but on the day you need that something special, that surprise element, and that’s where the team is moving.”
Aplon has no doubt that the Stormers will bounce back in 2015: “We have the depth, ability and personnel to dominate Super Rugby in the future.” - Cape Argus