Vodacom Super 14

Aplon big enough for Boks

2010-05-23 22:30
Gio Aplon (Gallo Images)
Stephen Nell

Cape Town – It’s one thing to get to the top, but quite another to stay there.

That is why Stormers wing Gio Aplon does not want to fall into the trap of taking a swipe at critics that believed he was too small for 15-man rugby now that he has been picked to play for the Springboks in their June 5 Test against Wales in Cardiff.

“I want to try and settle in the side and become a regular for the Boks. The hard work to try and stay there starts now. I have to stay humble and not get carried away,” Aplon told Sport24 on Sunday.

Aplon nevertheless thanked Springbok Sevens coach Paul Treu and the Stormers management following confirmation that he will wear the Green-and Gold in the Millennium Stadium.

“I’m grateful for the chance I got to play Sevens last year. I told myself that I had to prove that I belonged at a level above that and had to play well in every tournament. Paul threw me a lifeline,” said Aplon.

“The coaches at the Stormers also showed a lot of faith in me. My form picked up as a result. Sireli (Naqelevuki) was still the first choice on the wing last year, but they showed faith in me from the outset.”

Juan de Jongh said his inclusion in the Bok squad had come as a “big surprise”.

“My Saturday really built up (to a special day) from beginning to end,” said De Jongh, who scored an excellent try for the Stormers in their semi-final against the Waratahs.

De Jongh played two tour games for the Boks last year, but should make his Test debut against Wales off the substitute’s bench.

“It’s wonderful to get the opportunity again. It’s a new challenge and this time a Test, which is the real deal. I’m really looking forward to the challenge,” said De Jongh.

As far as his Saturday is concerned, De Jongh confirmed it was one of the “special moments” of his career to date.

His brilliant individual try was hailed by Stormers coach Allister Coetzee as the turning point in the match.

Meanwhile, Stormers flanker Francois Louw will follow in the footsteps of grandfather Jan Pickard when he dons the Bok jersey against Wales. Pickard played four Tests for South Africa from 1953 to 1958.

Louw will wear South Africa’s No 6 jersey against the Welsh.

Two other Stormers – lock Andries Bekker and scrumhalf Ricky Januarie – are also in the Boks’ plans for the Test in Cardiff.

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