Etzebeth to lead through actions

PLETTENBERG BAY – Eben Etzebeth will be one of the most experienced players when the Springboks face the French next month, but there’s no pressure – as the Bok lock believes that his leadership role with the Stormers has geared him up well for the task.

Etzebeth, who was appointed vice-captain of Robbie Fleck’s Stormers at the start of the Super Rugby season, has also led the team on two occasions while fellow Springbok Siya Kolisi was rested due to the Bok management plan.

As a 54-cap Bok, Etzebeth is the second most-capped player in Allister Coetzee’s squad, second only to Tendai Mtawarira, who has 87 Test caps.

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Eben Etzebeth is the second most-capped player in Allister Coetzee’s squad. Photo: Chris Ricco/BackpagePixCourtnall Skosan signs autographs at the Springbok practice in Plettenberg Bay on Tuesday. Photo: Wynona LouwJean-Luc du Preez takes a selfie with Springboks fans at the Bitou Rugby Club in Plettenberg Bay on Tuesday. Photo: Wynona Louw

And the skyscraper second-rower says that he will just build on what he did with the Stormers when he takes the field with a few less experienced, or uncapped, players.

“I had a bit of a leadership role with the Stormers this year, so I think you don’t have to change much. You just have to lead on the field and you have to lead off the field. I don’t like talking a lot so I try and lead through my actions,” Etzebeth said.

Etzebeth, who opted not to play rugby abroad between the November-February period, also said that the decision to stay in South Africa has benefited him greatly in terms of his fitness and allowed him to be in top shape for the 2017 season, while it also gave him some free time to spend with family.

A few thousand people attended the Springbok practice at Bitou Rugby Club in Plettenberg Bay on Tuesday. Video: Wynona Louw

“If I think back now, December was probably my nicest holiday. Just to take a bit of a break from rugby. I also didn’t pick up any injuries whereas in previous seasons I did.

"So it was a good break.I picked up on my fitness and I got stronger in the gym. So I definitely think it was a good decision. I also got some time to spend with family.”

Regarding the Springboks’ training camp in Plettenberg Bay, Etzebeth said that the vibe was great, while he also added that the players’ Super Rugby experiences, whether positive or a bit more negative, shouldn’t follow them into their Test series preparation too much.

But, on the other hand, confidence built during the Super Rugby competition could also be of great help, Etzebeth believes.

“I don’t think it should influence you because it will be a whole different team. But I also think if you built up confidence in Super Rugby it will definitely help. But like I said, I also think it’s different because it’s a whole new team and you’ll be playing for your country. So I don’t think it should be too much of an influence, but sometimes it really is,” he said.

“My confidence levels are the same as every other year. But I did get more game time this year, so I am fitter. But I believe if you put on the green and gold, regardless of where you come from or regardless of what your confidence levels are, you are going to want to perform.

“So whether it’s your first Test or whether you are deep into your 80th cap like Beast, it will be an honour. And if you get selected and the coach believes in you, that confidence will be there.”


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