Sharks star: Consistency an omen for 'big things' in 2020
Cape Town - At just 21 years of age, Aphelele Fassi, the Sharks fullback whose main currency is skill, pace, power and exploiting shoddy defences, makes it hard to believe that he made his Super Rugby debut just last year.
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In 2019, the Dale College-schooled Fassi made 15 Super Rugby appearances (out of 17) for the Durban-based franchise, contributing 20 points to his team’s cause.
For the Currie Cup - where he graduated to after moving with haste to establish himself in the SuperSport Rugby Challenge in just his first year out of school - his record is just as impressive, with the same amount of appearances and points in South Africa's oldest domestic rugby competition as the premier southern hemisphere rugby tournament above.
In 2019, Fassi was named by his franchise as the Currie Cup Player of the Year - an award he pins down to his consistency.
And when Sport24 catches up with him, he insists that 'c' word (consistency), will need to not only be his stock in trade, but the Sharks' as well, if he's to continue his rise as a key member of the their backline.
The Durban-based franchise finished third in last year's South African conference, and sixth on the overall log.
"What we're looking forward to this season is the consistency we think we've been lacking," Fassi says.
Given how much the Sharks have moved to bolster their playing stocks for this campaign, with key signings, there almost seems to be a newfound expectation of the them in 2020.
Fassi believes there's been an element of growth that has taken place ahead of the season.
The Sharks had "11 straight weeks of pre-season," he stresses, with a fair bit of sweat running down his forehead as if he had just remembered back to the gruelling work.
"We've had to adapt to the new system (brought in by Sean Everitt, who moved from Currie Cup coach to Super Rugby coach) and also backing the coach."
Everitt will be assisted by David Williams as backline and attack coach, Brent Janse van Rensburg as forwards coach and Phiwe Nomlomo, who joins as skills specialist coach across the Sharks’ professional teams.
On the new signings, Fassi says it's been spending time together as a group that has made it easy to allow the players streaming into Kings Park slot in easily.
Fassi concludes by revealing that it’s a big year for him - without getting into the specifics - but he is aware that if he keeps at his current rate - the 'c' word again, "maybe big things might happen".
The Sharks kick-off their Super Rugby campaign with a clash against the Bulls at Kings Park on January 31.
Kick-off 19:10 (SA time).