“I'm not saying it's a shot in the foot, nor that it's bad planning. The World Cup ended recently, we didn't know the results we were going to get and there have been a lot of requests for the Portuguese national team and the Lusitanos, it wasn't expected, but it has to be a good thing,” said the CDUL player.
“This boom wasn't planned, just as it wasn't planned that Portugal would beat Fiji and go on to win a game at the World Cup, or that they would play as well as they did. We're doing well, we're focused, we're already focused on the first international window in February and March, and we're not losing focus. The good sign has to do with the fact that Portuguese rugby is growing,” he emphasised.
Sébastian Bertrank was made official as coach on 12 October, after Portugal won their first-ever World Cup match by beating Fiji 24-23, still under the command of Patrice Lagisquet, who led the 'Wolves' between 2019 and 2023.
Appleton also warned that the sport must “capitalise on the wave, on this post-World Cup phase,” to focus on professionalism.
“We achieved an excellent result at the World Cup without being one, but the truth is that it doesn't last forever. And if we're dependent on generations who are willing to make all these sacrifices to get there, I don't think it will work. So, professionalism is the way forward,” he said.
The captain, who is also a dentist, believes that this path towards professionalism can't just depend on the Portuguese Rugby Federation (FPR), but must also be supported by the clubs.
“I believe it will go hand in hand. The Portuguese league is a semi-professional league, we already have professional players and the Lusitanos are already a good start to the professionalisation of Portuguese rugby, but the clubs will have to keep up and have the structure to keep up with this professionalism,” he said.