Western Province speedster Gio Aplon says he embraces being a mentor for the young magic man Cheslin Kolbe.
Kolbe took the South African rugby scene by storm in 2013, turning out awesome individual moments of brilliance for the Baby Boks, Springbok Sevens and Western Province in the Currie Cup.
With the youngster set to get his first taste of Super Rugby in 2014, Aplon says he enjoys the responsibility of playing a mentorship role for Kolbe.
“Breyton Paulse was my roommate when I started playing for Western Province and he took me under his wing,” Aplon tells MyPlayers in an exclusive interview. “It was amazing to be so close to someone who had achieved so much and the way he reached out to me and shared his knowledge was amazing.
“It’s my turn now and I have the opportunity to show Cheslin the way and help him. It’s something I’m focussing on and I must say he keeps me on my toes. The kind of performances he puts in also kickstarts something me. His energy is contagious and that is great for our whole squad.
“But it’s up to guys like me to teach him to channel that energy and be smart in the way he plays. It’s also about keeping a cool head in a pressure situation and that only comes with experience.”
Following the departure of Bryan Habana to France, it’s Aplon’s opinion that Kolbe has what it takes to fill the enormous boots of the Springbok winger.
“Bryan [Habana] was in a class of his own and if you look at what he has achieved it’s truly phenomenal. He was really good for us and we will miss him.
“So when a guy like that departs it leaves a big gap, but luckily it also creates an opportunity for a guy like Cheslin to step up. He is just so exciting and energetic and he has a dimension to his play that we don’t see too often anymore these days.
“He brings something new to the game and I have no doubt that he will be just as great as Bryan was for us if he gets the right opportunities.”
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