Nienaber on Fassi and Coetzee omissions: ‘It’s definitely not cheers … it’s like a pause’

Aphelele Fassi. (Photo: Steve Haag/PA Images via Getty Images)

Aphelele Fassi. (Photo: Steve Haag/PA Images via Getty Images)
  • Jacques Nienaber said Aphelele Fassi’s and Marcell Coetzee’s omission was “definitely not cheers but almost like a pause”.
  • The pair failed to crack the Springboks Rugby Championship squad after failing to impress against Wales in Bloemfontein.
  • Nienaber opted to call up veterans Duane Vermeulen, who had knee surgery, and Frans Steyn instead.

Springbok head coach Jacques Nienaber explained Aphelele Fassi’s and Marcell Coetzee’s omission from the Rugby Championship squad, saying it was “definitely not cheers but almost like a pause”.

Fassi and Coetzee were released back to their unions, the Sharks and Bulls, respectively, at the conclusion of the 2-1 Test series win over Wales.

It appears the pair failed to impress during their performance appraisal following the Boks’ 13-12 defeat to Wales in the second Test, the only one of the three they were part of.

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Fassi started at left wing in Bloemfontein, while Coetzee had the No 6 jersey. Despite Cheslin Kolbe’s jaw injury, Nienaber chose to release Fassi, who scored twice in his previous two Tests.

Coetzee, meanwhile, was one of the most outstanding players during the United Rugby Championship after leading the Bulls to the final.

Instead, Duane Vermeulen, who recently had knee surgery, and Frans Steyn were roped back into the setup.

“We still have a big group and it’s unfortunate for the two guys we left out, Aphelele and Marcell, to get two injured guys in to see where they are in terms of their rehab in Duane and Frans Steyn,” said Nienaber in a lengthy yet detail-shy response.

“We basically wanted to look at them (Vermeulen and Steyn) before we go into the Rugby Championship and go on tour to Australia and Argentina.

“Both those players (Fassi and Coetzee) were unfortunate. Off-field, they served the team well and they understood their roles and responsibilities.

“On-field, like I said numerous times, we have performance analysis after every game and that is shared with the players.

“I don’t think it’s my place to discuss their performance assessment with the public. They would know exactly [what that said] and they can talk about it if they want to.

“In terms of their rugby stuff, I’m 100% confident that they know, if there are gaps in their game, where those gaps are and what we’d like them to work on.

“I told both players that it’s definitely not cheers; it’s almost like a pause. If there’s another injury in the outside backs or at loose-forward, they slot straight in.”

The Springboks are in Mpumalanga preparing for the first Rugby Championship clash against the All Blacks on 6 August before they meet again at Ellis Park a week later.