Rainbow Cup

Rainbow Cup final: Bulls ace Aplon's cheeky 'plan' to gain inside info from mate Duvenage

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Gio Aplon and Dewaldt Duvenage during their Stormers days. (Gallo Images)
Gio Aplon and Dewaldt Duvenage during their Stormers days. (Gallo Images)
  • Bulls veteran Gio Aplon joked that he hopes to leverage a care package from family against Benetton skipper and former Stormers team-mate Dewaldt Duvenage for some inside info.
  • Jokes aside, Aplon praises the impact of his good mate, who's played an integral part in the Italian club's fine Rainbow Cup campaign. 
  • The evergreen play-maker believes the Bulls need to keep the focus narrow when it comes to dealing with unfamiliar European conditions.

Bulls veteran Gio Aplon hopes a small "care package" from Dewaldt Duvenage's in-laws will be enough for him to spill some Benetton secrets ahead of Saturday's Rainbow Cup final in Treviso.

The evergreen 38-year-old fullback, naturally, made that comment in jest, but is sincerely looking forward to catching up a bit with his former Stormers team-mate.

Duvenage, an understated yet highly efficient halfback throughout his career, is expected to resume his captaincy of the Italian side as he continues to entrench himself as a club legend since joining in 2018.

"I have a package from the family that I still have to give him," Aplon said mischievously.

"But I'm going to leverage that a bit for a few top secret insights. There's a bit of biltong in there and some sweets too, which I'm sure will make him desperate to give anything in exchange. 

"It's all part of the plan."

Jokes aside, Aplon hailed his good mate's impact at the surprise package of the tournament as Benetton were the only side to remain unbeaten.

"Dewaldt's been doing really well here since arriving," he said.

"He's led the team brilliantly and I believe he's also done well to help integrate several other South Africans, New Zealanders and Argentinians into the team. 

"Benetton's position on the points table reflects how well they've performed. This is a really good team to test yourself against. No wonder I'm looking forward to those secrets!"

Aplon's vast experience of European conditions with French club Grenoble - which boasts a similar climate to Treviso - will be invaluable to Jake White's troops, who have virtually no time to effectively familiarise themselves with the new surroundings giving the short turnaround time.

Bulls touring squad:
 

Forwards

Lizo Gqoboka, Gerhard Steenekamp, Johan Grobbelaar, Schalk Erasmus, Sydney Tobias, Jacques Van Rooyen, Mornay Smith, Robert Hunt, Ruan Nortje, Janko Swanepoel, Jan Uys, Walt Steenkamp, WJ Steenkamp, Muller Uys, Marcell Coetzee, Nizaam Carr 

Backs

Ivan Van Zyl, Zak Burger, Keagan Johannes, Chris Smith, Clinton Swart, Cornal Hendricks, Marco Janse van Vuren, Stravino Jacobs, Madosh Tambwe, Dawid Kellerman, Gio Aplon, David Kriel



He suggests the Bulls keep it simple.

"It's extremely hot here in Italy this time of the year. We're relatively used to the heat of South Africa, but there's humidity to take into account here too. Hopefully it doesn't catch up to us," said Aplon.

"We've obviously done a lot of analysis on our opponents. You take everything into account. We have a good plan, but we can't deny that you are playing in a different country and environment.

"It's just going to be about the guys doing what they've been doing well in this campaign and treading the fine line between letting them play but not drifting away from the game-plan too far."

The Bulls will announce their match-day squad on Friday. 

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