Aphelele Fassi at a crossroads says Sharks’ Currie Cup coach Joey Mongalo

FILE - Aphelele Fassi in action for the Sharks. Photo: Gerhard Duraan/BackpagePix

FILE - Aphelele Fassi in action for the Sharks. Photo: Gerhard Duraan/BackpagePix

Published Jun 3, 2023


Cape Town — Aphelele Fassi is at a crossroads in terms of his rugby career and his Currie Cup coach Joey Mongalo feels that he's got a big choice to make in steering his path in the right direction.

The exciting Sharks outside back has had a mixed bag of a season in the United Rugby Championship (URC) with injuries and some below-par performances hampering him in pushing for Springbok colours again.

He made his international debut in 2021 after a stellar couple of seasons with the Durban-based franchises but hasn't fulfilled his potential yet.

Fassi (25) was recently linked with a move to the Stormers, but the Sharks managed to secure his services for the future, and Mongalo feels he got the pedigree to become a legend in Durban.

"My conversation with Aphelele was that he's got a choice, he's at a crossroads for me," the Sharks mentor said.

"He can be the guy who plays 200 first-class games for the Sharks and never play for the Springboks because of one or two deficiencies in his game that he can sort out now. Or he fixes one or two of those deficiencies and plays 200 games for the Sharks but also plays 50 to 100 tests for the Springboks.

"I think we have laid a challenge before him, and we are working with him on a daily basis on one or two of those deficiencies. Hopefully, it's easy to do it for a week or two. But hopefully, he can build a lifestyle for the next two or three years, to work on those things so that they become strengths of his."

According to Mongalo, it will be a sad thing for him if he sits in his bed one-day watching rugby and Fassi is not playing rugby at the highest level because he (Mongalo) wasn't willing to go deep with him.

Fassi will have the rest of the Currie Cup season to reinvigorate himself after not reaching the heights in the second season of the URC with the Sharks.

Injuries at critical times kept him out of action, while his form took a dip so much so that he was in and out of the Sharks' side. While he continued to deliver sparks, as he's known for, in certain matches those deficiencies Mongalo speaks of, have been a big hurdle in his growth.

His defence, for one, is an aspect where he will have to improve if he is to reach Springbok level again. Luckily for him, Mongalo and Sharks director of rugby Neil Powell is some of the best defensive brains in South Africa, and if he works at it daily as Mongalo mentioned, he will get better.


IOL Sport

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