Super Rugby

Warrick Gelant's goals at Stormers: 'Chasing growth' and emulating Gio Aplon

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Warrick Gelant (Getty Images)
Warrick Gelant (Getty Images)
  • Springbok fullback Warrick Gelant has no regrets about leaving the Bulls for the Stormers.
  • Gelant says he joined the Stormers because he wants to "chase growth" as a player.
  • He also wants to emulate the heroics of Gio Aplon in the Stormers No 15 jersey.

Warrick Gelant has no regrets about leaving the Bulls to join the Stormers.

The Springbok fullback, who was part of last year's World Cup-winning squad in Japan, addressed reporters via a virtual meeting on Thursday when he signalled his intent at his new franchise.

"It's a place where I've always wanted to be... and the fact that they showed so much interest in a period where I was thinking about how I could reach the next level in my career... this is the place where I knew it would happen.

"Since arriving, there hasn't been one moment where I thought I made the wrong decision, I'm happy and I'm growing as a player - from the basic skill and also as a person. I'm excited to be here," Gelant said.

The 25-year-old was schooled at Outeniqua in George and represented South Western District at age group level, before joining the Bulls after school in 2014.

But he said a career-change was needed and shed more light on his decision.

"What is so special here is that the guys are chasing growth. They're never resting on their laurels... there's no comfort zone of 'we've arrived or we're the best team'... I think there's always the need to be better, no matter what area of the game.

"That is what is special and that's why I came here, I also want to move to the next level of my career, I also want to experience growth in my game. And for me to walk in here and see that is what's being chased day in and day out, then I think I'm currently at the best place for my career," Gelant said.

Emulating Gio Aplon

Gelant, who boasts nine Test caps since making his debut against Italy in Padova in 2017, added that he's "not close" to being the player he wants to be.

"That is my motivation - I have so much bigger goals than merely saying I was part of a World Cup squad. I came to the Cape to be a starter, I've always been a Stormers fan, the fullbacks who played here before me were great fullbacks.

"And for me to wear a jersey they wore is special and I also have to earn it. There are so many bigger things for me to come here and say I've won a World Cup, it's for me to be part of the Stormers tradition, being part of a jersey that was worn by so many great fullbacks."

Gelant said as a youngster he always looked up to Gio Aplon, who was a stalwart in the Stormers No 15 jersey between 2007 and 2014.

"Gio played when I started watching rugby, obviously Percy (Montgomery) before that, but Gio was the guy. He wasn't rated as highly because he was small, but the skill-set he possessed is what we all wanted to emulate as youngsters.

"Obviously Cheslin (Kolbe) after him and Dillyn (Leyds) and Joe Pietersen... those were the guys."

With Gelant moving down to the Cape, Aplon has since been roped in by the Bulls after years of playing club rugby in France (Grenoble) and Japan (Toyota Verblitz).

When asked what he felt about Aplon taking his spot at the Bulls, Gelant quipped:

"A man of his stature can't come in and take my place... I may be taking his place down here, it's definitely not the other way around."

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