Veteran Western Province and Stormers wing/fullback Gio Aplon will further his career abroad at the end of the 2014 Vodacom Super Rugby season, but two young backline talents have been signed to make up for his departure. With Aplon set to join French Top 14 club Grenoble later this year, two younger players will be available to Western Province Rugby from the start of the 2014 Absa Currie Cup season – fullback/flyhalf Dillyn Leyds and SA Sevens speedster Seabelo Senatla. Aplon has played over 160 matches for WP Rugby – at Super Rugby (81), Currie Cup (73) and Vodacom Cup (nine) level – but will now move on to the next chapter in his impressive first-class career.
Comfortable at either wing or fullback, he made his DHL Western Province debut in 2005 and his DHL Stormers debut two years later – quickly becoming a darling in Cape Town with his quick feet on attack and bravery on defence. Allister Coetzee, WP’s Senior Professional Coach, told the Stormers’s website, “Gio has been a loyal servant of WP Rugby and a true son of DHL Newlands. He will be missed, but he goes with our blessing. At almost 32 years of age, having just got married and starting a young family, we were never going to stand in Gio’s way when he asked to be released – having first played in the Blue & White hoops (as a Vodacom Cup player) back in 2005.”
Meanwhile, Coetzee was delighted to have secured the services of Leyds and Senatla, two of the country’s brightest backline talents, with an even younger player, the WP Rugby Institute’s EW Viljoen, the next fullback in waiting within the union. Leyds is currently part of the Western Force Super Rugby squad, whilst BlitzBokke sensation Senatla will join DHL Western Province in a unique twin deal with the SA Sevens side. Coetzee said, “We are naturally elated that Dillyn is returning to Cape Town – especially after the starring role he played for the cup-winning DHL Western Province Under-21 team in 2013. However, as with Demetri Catrakilis – who rejoined us from the Kings last year – we understand that a move away from Cape Town can only be a good thing for his development as a player and a person. Seabelo’s signing is a real coup too, especially given the nature of the deal between us and SA Rugby. Seabelo has impressed at Junior World Cup level and on the international Sevens circuit. He has out and out pace and a high work-rate and we look forward to working with him later this year.”