Aplon plotting a few tricks
Sydney - He may have been born in Hawston and grew up in the Cape of Storms, but for once Gio Aplon would prefer for it not to rain.
The slippery fullback, who will run out for the Springboks here at the ANZ Stadium on Saturday, prefers dry fields. He does not believe that rain will create the ideal conditions for the Tri-Nations Test against the Wallabies.
Not only did it lead to the Boks' Thursday session being held indoors at a local school, but it has also led to their captain's run being postponed.
"But everybody plays in the same conditions and if it bothers us the same probably applies to the Wallabies. It will come down to the team with the best attitude towards the conditions and the one that adapts the best," said the 29-year-old fleet-footed outside back.
Aplon's counter-attacking runs are a joy to watch, but one could only speculate about how much of that will be seen on a heavy field.
"It's about balance. You have to adapt in the rain and make sure you use the right skills at the right time. It will also depend on how good the communication is between myself, Bjorn (Basson) and Lwazi (Mvovo)," said Aplon.
He played with both of them in November last year and is reasonably satisfied with the understanding between them.
"First it was me and Bjorn, and things still went well after he had to go home and Lwazi came in, so I trust it will go well again."
Even if Will Genia and Quade Cooper are such excellent kickers?
"They kick a lot more than what people realise and kick very intelligently. They also vary it well and do it in the right areas. So we have to be alert," said Aplon.
He admits that he's very satisfied with his form.
"The past year was good for me and I can thank the Lord that He watched over me; I am now a more mature player. I want to play every week as if I have to prove myself again. That is the way I like it. If that is your approach, you will never stand accused of not doing your bit."
Aplon, of course, is also playing for his people in Hawston, especially those who still refuse to support the Boks.
"I have managed to get a few of them to support the Boks, so hopefully I can go back after this and bring a few more of them around."
However, before that happens there is something he would still like to add to his Test status, Aplon admits almost shyly. He succeeded with a drop goal in Super Rugby this year and it's something he would like to try in the Test arena.
"I'm working on it in my own time and the successful one against the Stormers gave me a lot of confidence to try it again. Hopefully that one wasn't just a case of beginner's luck."
Meanwhile, the Springboks suffered another blow on Thursday with the news that lock Johann Muller had to withdraw from the line-up with a hamstring injury. He will be replaced by Alistair Hargreaves.
There was uncertainty over Muller's injury prior to the Springboks' departure and Hargreaves trained throughout.
15 Kurtley Beale, 14 James O'Connor, 13 Adam Ashley-Cooper, 12 Pat McCabe, 11 Digby Ioane, 10 Quade Cooper, 9 Will Genia, 8 Ben McCalman, 7 David Pocock, 6 Rocky Elsom, 5 James Horwill, 4 Rob Simmons, 3 Ben Alexander, 2 Stephen Moore, 1 Sekope Kepu
Substitutes: 16 Saia Faingaa, 17 Pek Cowan, 18 Nathan Sharpe, 19 Matt Hodgson, 20 Scott Higginbotham, 21 Nick Phipps, 22 Anthony FaingaaSpringboks:
15 Gio Aplon, 14 Bjorn Basson, 13 Juan de Jongh, 12 Wynand Olivier, 11 Lwazi Mvovo, 10 Morne Steyn, 9 Ruan Pienaar, 8 Ashley Johnson, 7 Danie Rossouw, 6 Deon Stegmann, 5 Johann Muller, 4 Flip van der Merwe, 3 Werner Kruger, 2 John Smit, 1 Dean Greyling
Substitutes: 16 Chiliboy Ralepelle, 17 CJ van der Linde, 18 Alistair Hargreaves, 19 Jean Deysel, 20 Charl McLeod, 21 Adrian Jacobs, 22 Patrick Lambie