Etzebeth not fazed by enhanced responsibility of leading the Boks against Wallabies
Eben Etzebeth isn't new to the Springbok captaincy‚ so he knows the enhanced responsibility he faces ahead of Saturday's Test against Australia at Ellis Park.
The towering Etzebeth was captain in what was a tumultuous 2017 for the Springboks under Allister Coetzee.
A lot has changed since then‚ but not his hunger and the need to make sure the Springboks succeed at every turn.
They begin their Rugby World Cup journey on Saturday at the venue where SA's first World Cup was secured in 1995.
“I can't really describe the feeling but it's a massive honour‚” he said.
“There's been some big names that have led South Africa before and just to be in the same position as them is an unbelievable honour for me. When you're the captain‚ you often have a bit more responsibility‚ you lead the team and you make all the decisions‚” Etzebeth said.
“I have the backs of the senior guys in the team like Francois Louw‚ Tendai Mtawarira and the rest. It's going really well. At the end of the day‚ 2019 is a World Cup year so it's crucial we get our combinations right‚ seeing who's in form and who isn't. We also want to win the Test match and we want to play well at the same time.”
The Springboks will be fielding three debutants in flank Rynhardt Elstadt‚ scrumhalf Herschel Jantjies while loose-head prop Lizo Gqoboka will make his international bow from the bench in their Ruby Championship opener.
Australia only have one debutant in no8 Isi Naisarani while they've stacked their bench with experienced game changers like Kurtley Beale‚ Will Genia and Matt To'omua.
While Etzebeth was pleased with SA's debutants and how they've navigated their way into the Springboks‚ Etzebeth will be partnered by Lood de Jager‚ one of SA's best locks who's been struck down by injury at some unfortunate times.
“I rate Lood very highly and I think he's an exceptional rugby player. In the 2015 Rugby World Cup year‚ he was SA's Rugby player of the year. I really think he's an outstanding rugby player all round. I know when he puts on a Springbok jersey‚ he always gives off his best‚” Etzebeth said.
“I've played a few Tests with him and I've never been disappointed after the game. He always gives 100 percent.”
Teams South Africa: 15 Warrick Gelant‚ 14 Sibusiso Nkosi‚ 13 Jesse Kriel‚ 12 André Esterhuizen‚ 11 Makazole Mapimpi‚ 10 Elton Jantjies‚ 9 Herschel Jantjies‚ 8 Francois Louw‚ 7 Pieter-Steph du Toit‚ 6 Rynhardt Elstadt ‚ 5 Lodewyk de Jager‚ 4 Eben Etzebeth (captain)‚ 3 Trevor Nyakane‚ 2 Bongi Mbonambi‚ 1 Tendai Mtawarira.
Replacements: 16 Schalk Brits‚ 17 Lizo Gqoboka‚ 18 Vincent Koch‚ 19 Marvin Orie‚ 20 Marcel Coetzee‚ 21 Cobus Reinach‚ 22 Frans Steyn‚ 23 Dillyn Leyds.
Australia: 15 Tom Banks‚ 14 Dane Haylett-Petty‚ 13 Tevita Kuridrani‚ 12 Samu Kerevi‚ 11 Reece Hodge‚ 10 Bernard Foley‚ 9 Nic White‚ 8 Isi Naisarani‚ 7 Michael Hooper (captain)‚ 6 Lukhan Salakaia-Loto‚ 5 Rory Arnold‚ 4 Izack Rodda‚ 3 Sekope Kepu‚ 2 Folau Fainga’a‚ 1 James Slipper.
Replacements: 16 Jordan Uelese‚ 17 Harry Johnson-Holmes‚ 18 Taniela Tupou‚ 19 Rob Simmons‚ 20 Jack Dempsey‚ 21 Will Genia‚ 22 Matt To'omua‚ 23 Kurtley Beale.
Referee: Paul Williams (New Zealand) Assistant referees: Matthew Carley (England)‚ Karl Dickson (England)
TMO: Rowan Kitt (England