Aplon divides his hometown
Auckland – Gio Aplon’s home town of Hawston will be united in their backing of their favourite son when the Springboks play the All Blacks at Eden Park on Saturday.
While some of the inhabitants of the small coastal town support the All Blacks, they will cheer Aplon on when he has the ball tucked under his arm.
“You could say I have divided the town,” Aplon laughed in the team’s hotel in the build-up to the biggest game of his life.
“There is a group of people in the Cape that traditionally support the All Blacks and some of them are in Hawston. I have friends among them, but they have promised that if I get the ball, they will turn their backs on the All Blacks at that moment and cheer me on. Fortunately my family are dedicated Springbok supporters,” said Aplon.
He had to answer a number of political questions from local reporters on Tuesday, but he stepped through it as impressively as he has jinked his way through most of the defensive patterns that he has had to face.
Aplon admitted that he would be much more comfortable fielding a high kick from Dan Carter than some of the questions. He knows it will be a special day to run out against the All Blacks.
“I will never forget the day I played for the Springboks for the first time and sang then anthem (against Wales). It was also special when I scored two tries in front of my home crowd against France. But my team-mates tell me this one, Saturday against the All Blacks, is the big one.”
Aplon is likely to be an impact player off the bench and he can’t wait.
“It’s the All Blacks in Auckland – their actual home field. To face the Haka and accept the challenge, what more can you ask for in your career,” said Aplon.
He is relatively happy with his form to date at Test level.
“In some games the play goes in your direction more than in others, so it’s difficult to know exactly what to expect. But I believe in making the most of your opportunities, so hopefully I can grab them if they come my way,” said Aplon.
The former Sevens Springbok won’t mind if some space opens up for him.
“There is reasonable freedom to play the way you want, but the team always comes first. Counter-attacking is one thing, but it won’t happen if your positional play is not good,” said Aplon.
Aplon believes the manner in which the Stormers’ backs played this year was a contributing factor to him becoming a Test player.
“I can honestly say that my only goal this year was to make the Stormers’ starting line-up and stay there,” said Aplon.
“Fortunately the team performed well and a few guys were rewarded for that. And here I’m waiting to play the All Blacks.”