Aphelele Fassi’s return come at the right time for the Sharks
DURBAN - Almost three months ago to the day, Sharks fullback Aphelele Fassi seriously injured a shoulder joint in a freak training accident, but his wait to return to action his over.
Fassi, 22, was enjoying a spectacular Super Rugby season in February and March, and was looking forward to resuming that form in Super Rugby Unlocked only to get badly crocked in the week before the resumption friendly that was SuperFan Saturday at Loftus Versfeld.
His counter-attacking play from the back was a catalyst of so much of the Sharks’ enterprising play before lockdown, and he was widely spoken of as a natural inclusion in the greater Springbok squad to play the British and Irish Lions next July.
Fast forward three months and he is set to be included on the Sharks’ bench for their visit to the Cheetahs in Bloemfontein on Sunday.
His rehabilitation after shoulder surgery has been carefully monitored and after coming though tackle bag training unscathed last week, coach Sean Everitt said he is happy to give the former Dale College pupil time off the bench on Sunday.
The big question, though, is whether the Sharks’ backline will see much of the ball this week after experiencing a drought against the Lions in a heavy defeat at Ellis Park last Saturday.
The Sharks played the Lions without four of their first-choice tight five and matters could get worst today when they receive the results of their latest bout of testing. With the Sharks and Lions having only concluded their game late on Saturday night, testing could only take place last night — as per protocols, testing can only begin 48 hours after the end of a match.
Because they were waiting on results, the Sharks did not train yesterday but will do so today, tomorrow and on Christmas Day.
While the players will no doubt find it a touch inconvenient to be putting on the boots on the 25th, it is much better than how things were originally planned for them — they were due to fly to Bloemfontein on Christmas Day to play the Cheetahs on Boxing Day, but their CEO, Ed Coetzee, managed to have the game moved to Sunday.
They will find training on Christmas Day for an hour or two way better than travelling to another city on Christmas Day.