Western Province will host the Currie Cup final after they beat the Golden Lions 33-16 at Newlands on Saturday. The win was sparked in part by brilliant fullback Gio Aplon, who has put his hand up for selection ahead of the end of year Springboks European tour.
Aplon, who last played Test rugby against England last year, has been out of favour with coach Heyneke Meyer, who appeared to prefer bigger backs. The inclusion of the dynamic Willie Le Roux this year however leads one to believe that the door may not be shut on the 31-year-old.
“I think there is a spot for Gio in the Springbok squad, especially now that Heyneke Meyer has shown with his decision to pick Willie le Roux that he seeks a player with X-factor at the back,” said former Springbok centre and now Western Province coach, Robbie Fleck.
Western Province reached their second consecutive final thanks in large part to Man of the Match Aplon, who glided through gaps and fended defenders with ease, despite his diminutive stature.
His try, when the game was finely poised at 10-9, helped the home side pull away and thanks to some fine kicking and a try from flyhalf Demetri Catrakilis, WP will meet the Sharks in the final.
Aplon nearly scored earlier in the game as he combined with 19-year-old clone Cheslin Kolbe down the left wing, but the final pass was unfortunately called forward by the TMO.
The 17-times-capped Bok was a constant attacking threat, prompting former national coach Nick Mallett and former flyhalf Naas Botha to question why he isn’t part of the current Test setup.
“Gio is a fantastic player who has great feet and constantly breaks the line,” said Mallett, with Botha saying “I cannot understand why Gio is not in the national squad – he is such a consistently good performer at Super Rugby and Currie Cup levels.”
The end of year squad will be announced two days after the Currie Cup final.
Below is a quick wrap-up of some of Aplon’s great play, including that excellent try just before halftime. At the beginning of the video you can also look out for a big tackle by lock Eben Etzebeth.