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Saturday Jul 3, 2021

Aphelele Fassi: The debut Springbok that could change Warren Gatland's Lions selection

South African winger Aphelele Fassi put himself into contention for a starting role on this Summer’s Test series against the British & Irish Lions after a wonderful debut for the Springboks on Friday.

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The 23-year-old made his first appearance in green and gold against Georgia and scored a sensational try out wide inside the first five minutes at Loftus Versfeld stadium in Pretoria.

“When I played my first Currie Cup game, the same thing happened and when I sat in my hotel bed, I visualised the try,” said Fassi.

“I didn’t think it was going to happen, but then everything happened so quickly and I just decided to back myself. It is something that I will cherish for a long time.”

Fassi has played little more than 20 times for the Sharks in various forms of Super Rugby over the past couple of years but his finishing ability is unquestionable after that try on Friday night.

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Shortly after lockdown ended in September 2020, Fassi underwent shoulder surgery following an injury in training and was sidelined for three months before rejoining the Sharks squad for their Currie Cup campaign.

Since then the speedster, who regularly plays full back for the Sharks, has been in potent form for his club and the stats from his Springboks debut in Pretoria were simply astonishing.

Fassi made the most clean line breaks and running metres than any other player on the pitch and as well as scoring his first Test match try, pitched in with an assist for his side too.

The game finished 40-9 and full match highlights, starting with Fassi’s try, are available below:

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At present, the Springboks are due to face the Lions in Cape Town on 24 July in the opening Test of the series before playing the remaining two games in Johannesburg the following weeks.

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