Fullback Aphelele FAssi says he has former Sharks and Bok flyhalf Pat Lambie to thank for his improved kicking. Photo: BackpagePix
Fullback Aphelele FAssi says he has former Sharks and Bok flyhalf Pat Lambie to thank for his improved kicking. Photo: BackpagePix

Lambie has improved my kicking, says Fassi

By Mike Greenaway Time of article published Mar 12, 2020

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DURBAN – Sharks fullback Aphelele Fassi says he has former Sharks and Springbok flyhalf Pat Lambie to thank for his improved kicking in Super Rugby this year.

Fassi’s attacking game has been sensational this year and has drawn all the attention, but he is also growing closer to being the finished product because of his much-improved kicking game.

“Coach Sean (Everitt) and I looked at my game in the off-season and the obvious areas to brush up on were my tackling and kicking game,” Fassi said after training yesterday ahead of Saturday’s match against the Stormers at Jonsson Kings Park.

“I put a lot of work into those areas in the off-season and Pat has played a big role in improving my kicking,” Fassi said.

Lambie was forced to retire from the game in 2018 because of concussion and on his return home to Durban from France (where he had been playing for Racing 92), he has taken on the position of kicking consultant at the Sharks.

“Pat is an inspiration and he obviously knows what he is talking about. He has been very good for me and there are quite a few things we have worked into my kicking game that have resulted in better all-round performances from me this season,” Fassi said.

The 22-year-old has been consistently lethal for the Sharks this year with his ability to break the line on the counter-attack from the back.

Against the Jaguares last week, he totalled 107m from his nine runs and now has the second-most run metres in Super Rugby in 2020, with 507.

He didn’t break as many tackles against the Jaguares as in previous games, with just the one defender beaten; however, he did make two clean breaks, and now leads all Super Rugby fullbacks in line-breaks this season.

“I am very happy with my performances,” Fassi said. “I have managed to continue playing well from last year into this year and that is pleasing because this game is all about being consistent.

“It is about having a high work rate so that I can get into position to get the ball and then, when I have it, it is about backing myself and believing I can go all the way to the try-line (as he often does)”

Looking ahead to the Stormers, Fassi said there is an “edge” in training.

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“The guys are keen for this one and there is a definite edge to our preparations this week. SA derbies are always hectic, even the Superhero Sunday warm-up games were fierce,” he said.

“The good thing is that we are feeling refreshed now after our travels. For the last 20 minutes against the Jaguares the fatigue kicked in, but this is week two back from the tour and the jet lag has gone. Fatigue won’t be an issue on Saturday.”

Nor will the humidity. Fassi says that the players have adapted to Durban’s trying conditions once more.

“It is pretty much the same as when we left (on 1 February, after the Bulls game the night before). The last game on tour was in Brisbane and that was as humid as it is here, so by now we are feeling fully at ease with it again.”

Mike Greenaway

 

The Mercury

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