Gio Aplon says this week has been emotional one as he prepares for his final game at Newlands.
When the Stormers run out against the Sharks on Saturday evening, it will be the last game of Aplon’s career in Cape Town as he’ll continue a new chapter at French club Grenoble after Super Rugby.
The 31-year-old has enjoyed 10 years at Western Province and the Stormers, where he will be remembered as a crowd favourite.
“When I started packing my bags recently, it all started to hit me,” Aplon told MyPlayers. “I realised that this week would be my last few training sessions with the boys.
“I’m going to miss everything… the friendships I have made on and off the field, running out on to the field on match day and playing in front of an awesome crowd week in and week out.”
The 17-Test Springbok wing also admitted that the move to Europe would probably mean the end of his international career.
“I had my fair opportunity to play for the Springboks. Obviously you would like to get 50 or 100 caps, but there are quality players in South Africa,” he added. “I have made a decision to continue my career in France, so while I would love to play for the Boks, it is not something I expect as it is only fair to the players left behind that if they are at roughly the same level as I am, they should play ahead of me.”
Aplon also touched on the debatable topic of size. He hopes that he has proven that size does not matter when the player’s ability is evident, using Stormers team-mate and upcoming talent Cheslin Kolbe as an example.
“The way Cheslin came through during the Currie Cup last year, I think he is definitely the guy for the future. Through the years, I learned from players like Breyton Paulse and tried to become better every day. At the age of 20, Cheslin possesses a lot of skills that I didn’t have,” explained Aplon.
“The main thing for me is that he gets a fair chance and is not judged on his size. I hope he gets judged on his rugby abilities because he has great rugby abilities, and I think it’s maybe time for us to look away from size and look at the ability a player can bring on to the field, and see it from that perspective.
“I know stats show that size matters, but we need to judge on what’s happening between the four lines. And if a player brings something extra or has that X-factor, and has something extraordinary, why not pick him? Why not give him a chance?”