CAPE TOWN – Eben Etzebeth hasn’t played a single minute of rugby since December, but Springbok coach Rassie Erasmus says the big lock will most likely start in Saturday’s Rugby Championship opener against Argentina.
Speaking in Durban on Monday ahead of the Kings Park clash, Erasmus was adamant that Etzebeth was ready to play. The Stormers stalwart sustained a shoulder injury in the defeat to Wales in Cardiff last year, and had to endure a few false starts with regards to comebacks this season.
“Yes, Eben is available and we will be looking at starting him instead of playing him from the bench,” Erasmus said in a statement. “We got the clearance from the specialist, so he is ready to go. He is fit and strong and has been functional for a while, and he has been with us at Stellenbosch for a few weeks, where he has been training full-on.”
Etzebeth may partner Pieter-Steph du Toit against Los Pumas, with Erasmus adding that two other locks in Franco Mostert and RG Snyman – as well as flyhalf Elton Jantjies – needed to be carefully managed due to their high workload in Super Rugby and for the Boks this year.
“Players such as Elton Jantjies, Franco Mostert and RG Snyman have seen a lot of action and clocked a lot of playing time, so we will have to be sensible in how we manage them especially at the beginning of the campaign,” the Bok boss said.
“It can mean that perhaps they would not be in the selection mix for this weekend. We are playing Argentina twice in two weeks, travelling over there next week, so we will have to factor all of those things when we look at the first two matches.”
Saturday’s clash will start at 5.05pm, with Erasmus naming his match-23 on Thursday.
The Springboks have arrived in Durban and ready for a great week of preparations for our first #CastleLager Rugby Championship match against @unionargentina on Saturday. #LoveRugby pic.twitter.com/k3HSIxq0yI