The uncertainty surrounding the availability of Willie le Roux will see Gio Aplon be part of the Springbok squad for the end-of-year tour to Europe.
Bok coach Rassie Erasmus, speaking at a press conference in Stellenbosch on Friday at the conclusion of the training camp, said an “experienced hand” such as Aplon will be valuable in helping to guide wings Aphiwe Dyantyi and Sbu Nkosi, as well as Damian Willemse in the back-three.
The 36-year-old Aplon is currently at Toyota Verblitz in Japan, but has played for many years in France as well with Grenoble.
And it is that intimate knowledge of European conditions that will see Aplon get the nod ahead of SA-based back-three contenders such as Dillyn Leyds, SP Marais and Curwin Bosch.
“With Willie not being available in some Test matches, and him (Aplon) having a great left foot and playing in weather conditions which we are going to play in…” Erasmus said in a video posted by www.sarugbymag.co.za
“Everybody thought last year, after we lost at Newlands (against the All Blacks), that we were in great shape.
“But we didn’t play for two weeks and the guys were off (during the European tour). You can’t get tempo into the game in that wet weather – it’s more tactical.
“The kicking game plays a big role, the high ball plays a big role. So, yes, a guy like Damian will definitely get his chance over there, and Willie will be available for some of the games.
“But then, if you’ve got an experienced hand who has played in France, with a great left foot who is playing brilliant rugby at this stage, who can help…
“I know Aphiwe and Sbu are doing really well, but there are not a lot of old heads around them in terms of helping the back-three.
“Even the guys doing currently well in the Currie Cup – it’s definitely a step up going into European rugby and Championship rugby.”
Erasmus will name his final Bok squad after Saturday’s Currie Cup final between Western Province and the Sharks at Newlands.