Kobus van der Merwe and Luke Watson both praised their fullback for his Man of the Match performance against the Vodacom Blue Bulls.
Gio Aplon continues to build on his string of impressive performances this season, and garnered a deserved double in Friday night’s match against the Pretoria side. A small guy with a strong appetite for the counter-attack, he paradoxically lent weight to the argument that the lighter men can succeed at this level. Besides his tries, his defensive effort was flawless once again.
“I think we showed today what can be achieved with guts and determination,” said captain Luke Watson at a press conference following the game. “We don’t have a big team, but guys like Gio Aplon, who are all heart really make a difference. I don’t think Gio has missed a tackle all season.”
Coach Kobus van der Merwe was notably pleased with his side’s performance, and had plenty to say about his fullback.
“He’s an intelligent player. On attack, he has a natural gift and instinct for finding space, while on defence he utilises his low centre of gravity to put in those leg tackles that have been effective all season.”
Aplon also possesses a kicking game that is sometimes underused. At a practice held at Bellville earlier in the week, he had the highest success rate out of all the place kickers.
“He has played at flyhalf before and we would consider it if we lost Naas [Olivier] for some reason. We also have Sarel Potgieter and Corne Uys who can fill the position. Joe Pietersen has played there in the Vodacom Cup as well. We have a lot of options, and it is a very healthy situation.”
WP’s win over the Bulls also meant a clean sweep for all of the home sides today, with the WP U21s and U19s beating their Pretoria counterparts earlier in the day.
“It is great to see the young guys winning when the average age in our senior side is only 22,” said Van der Merwe. “We are entering a new era of WP rugby, where we play our natural game by keeping the ball in hand. Hopefully this is the way South African rugby is going to start moving forward as well.”
By Jon Cardinelli, at Newlands