Springboks star Aphelele Fassi Image via SA Rugby

Springbok star Aphelele Fassi celebrates. Image via SA Rugby/@Springboks.

The three big winners from the Springboks’ season-opener

The Springboks got the job done with a good win over Wales, and three players certainly advanced their cause for continued selection.

Springboks star Aphelele Fassi Image via SA Rugby

Springbok star Aphelele Fassi celebrates. Image via SA Rugby/@Springboks.

The Springboks started the season with a comfortable win over Wales, as expected, but the real challenge now awaits as a first-choice squad heads into action against Ireland in July.

Nevertheless, the Wales Test certainly served an important purpose as it exposed some newcomers to more Test action, and there were a few who particularly rose to the occasion.

Who were the Springboks’ big winners from Saturday

Edwill van der Merwe

In the absence of Cheslin Kolbe and Kurt-Lee Arendse, a gap opened up for Van der Merwe to fill, and he didn’t waste the opportunity.

The Lions speedster beat four defenders, made two clean breaks, ran 71 metres and completed all three of his tackle attempts to earn the Man of the Match award.

It was an accomplished performance, capped off with a brilliant solo try, and there is no doubt that he has put up his hand for a continued role as the season progresses.

Aphelele Fassi

As Willie le Roux enters the twilight of his career, it’s crucial that the Springboks start building more depth at fullback, and with this in mind, the performance of Fassi on Saturday was certainly a big win.

Making his first start since 2022, Fassi continued to display the impressive form from this past season at the Sharks, which had earned him a recall to the Springbok side.

The fullback was brilliant under the high ball, added a spark on attack, and really didn’t put a foot wrong. Considering Damian Willemse is also out for an extended period with an injury, this performance could not have come at a better time.

Evan Roos

With Jasper Wiese serving a suspension, the Springboks immediately needed to begin looking at other options at No 8, and Roos was the first to get a key opportunity on Saturday.

In what was effectively an audition to see whether he could be the man to step up for the remainder of the season at No 8, he produced a positive and powerful performance.

In all, he made 78 metres, beat three defenders, completed 13 carries and made four tackles.

Thumbs up from the coach

Springbok coach Rassie Erasmus said it was a case of “goal achieved” as they kicked off their 2024 season with a well-deserved 41-13 victory.

“It wasn’t a perfect performance,” said Erasmus. “We made a few errors and there were things that didn’t click, but there were others that did, so it was a good start.

“We have new coaches and had a few players making their debuts, so there were areas of the game that were not as good as we would have liked it to be, but there was certainly no lack of effort and intensity, and we realise it will take time for things together nicely.

“The important thing is that we achieved our goal and the players who made their debuts showed that they are capable at playing at this level.”