Fassi fully focused on Sharks following surprise Springbok snub, but covets place back

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  • Aphelele Fassi admitted to coveting his Springbok place back but was fully focused on the Sharks.
  • Fassi marked his Test debut by scoring a try with his first touch against Georgia last year and scored in his second outing against Argentina, too.
  • However, the 24-year-old dropped completely out of Bok reckoning despite Cheslin Kolbe's injury and Kurt-Lee Arendse's now expired four-game suspension.

Sharks fullback Aphelele Fassi admitted he coveted a place back into the Springbok setup but his focus was fully on his United Rugby Championship (URC) team for the time being.

Fassi fell out of favour with the Bok selectors following his only Test appearance this year, the 13-12 defeat to Wales in the second Test in Bloemfontein that also claimed Bulls captain Marcell Coetzee’s spot.

Fassi, who played at unfamiliar left wing that day in July, has been steadily trying to rebuild his confidence with the Durban franchise after being undoubtedly their most outstanding player in last season's URC.

READ | Refs boss Tappe Henning scores officials 8/10 over first two URC rounds

"Definitely," was Fassi's incisive reply to a question about whether he wanted to get back into head coach Jacques Nienaber's team.

"Anyone wants to be in that setup but my rugby focus is all with the Sharks family.

"I definitely want to do better things here at the Sharks, so all my focus is here.

"If that opportunity comes my way, it will be a credit to the [Sharks] coaching staff, myself and the team here."

Many were surprised that Fassi dropped completely from the national men's team, especially since Cheslin Kolbe suffered a jaw injury in the third Wales Test.

Later, Bulls wing Kurt-Lee Arendse copped a four-match suspension in the Rugby Championship, which necessitated 19-year-old Canan Moodie getting called up, who grabbed his opportunity with both hands.

The Boks made do with Jesse Kriel and even Lukhanyo Am at wing at stages, which made the Fassi dropping all the more curious.

Give direction

Fassi, who said he wanted to improve his game on a daily basis, also seemed unclear if there was a specific area of his game he was told to sharpen up.

"Every day when you get onto the training field, it's all about trying to improve your game in different areas of the field," he said.

"Each day when I go in, I try to improve. There's not much that I can identify that I need to strongly but it's just about being more on the ball and give direction where it's needed."

DURBAN, SOUTH AFRICA - AUGUST 25: Aphelele Fassi o
Aphelele Fassi during a Sharks training session. (Photo by Steve Haag/Gallo Images)

Springbok assistant coach Mzwandile Stick said in August before the All Blacks Test at Ellis Park that they had communicated the reasons for Fassi's omission and what the 24-year-old needed to work on.

"Our coach, Jacques, spoke to the Sharks coaches and I also brainstormed with Phiwe Nomlomo (Sharks skills coach) about where we needed to help each other," said Stick at the time.

"There were a few thing we thought he should [improve]. We know he has potential and he is good at rugby but there are things he has to work on.

"I won’t elaborate on those but we’ve communicated with the Sharks coaching staff and they know where we need help to get Fassi’s game up.

"Because he has that potential, it’s important for us coaches to help him."

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