Rassie Erasmus gives Springboks outcast another shot after two-year exile

Jared Wright
Fullback Aphelele Fassi and flanker Jean-Luc du Preez for South Africa and Springboks head coach RassFullback Aphelele Fassi and flanker Jean-Luc du Preez for South Africa and Springboks head coach Rassie Erasmus.ie Erasmus.

Fullback Aphelele Fassi and flanker Jean-Luc du Preez for South Africa and Springboks head coach Rassie Erasmus.

Springboks head coach Rassie Erasmus looks set to be giving out second chances, with Sharks star Aphelele Fassi being one of the benefactors.

The fullback has been in superb form for the Sharks despite the side’s poor results in the United Rugby Championship.

Fassi primed for Springboks return

He has made more clean breaks (18) and metres (967) than any other player in the URC, while he also has nine try involvements, scoring four and assisting five in the tournament.

Fassi has also been instrumental in helping the Sharks reach the Challenge Cup semi-finals, playing in all six matches.

His form has not gone unnoticed by head coach Erasmus, who has reportedly invited the outside back to his latest Springboks alignment camp, which was hosted online.

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The Boks‘ boss planned to have the players gather for the second camp, but his plans hit a snag due to the uncertainty around which South African-based players would be available for the Test against Wales.

South African newspaper the Rapport reports that Fassi was one of the players invited to the virtual camp, which will boost his chances of featuring against Wales in the Test match at Twickenham.

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Fringe players getting a shot

With the URC final taking place on the same day, the Sharks players will be available to the Springboks along with at least one other locally based side as Erasmus picks from a smaller pool of players as the stars in the Top 14 and Premiership will not be available.

The report adds that fellow Sharks star Phepsi Buthelezi has also received an invite to the second camp as an option at number eight, with Jasper Wiese definitely unavailable, while Evan Roos, Cameron Hanekom and Elrigh Louw could all miss the clash against Wales if the Bulls and Stormers contest the URC final.

Fassi earned his first cap for the Springboks against Georgia in 2021, adding a second against Argentina later that year. His last appearance for the Springboks, however, was against Wales in 2022.

The 26-year-old is a fan favourite at the Sharks and could force his way back into the national squad, where he will compete with the likes of Damian Willemse, Willie Le Roux and potentially Warrick Gelant and Quan Horn.

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