South Africa's Eben Etzebeth (centre) tussles with England's Ben Youngs as Joe Launchbury and Dan Cole move in to pull them apart.

Johannesburg – There will of course be those who’ll moan and groan and have some or other issue with the Springboks. In a country as passionate as ours when it comes to national sports teams it’s inevitable someone, somewhere, isn’t going to be happy.

But, be that as it may, the Springboks finished the year on Saturday with a hard-fought and lucky win over England – Willem Alberts’ try was very fortunate – but you need some luck sometimes and after the year the Boks have had, what with all the injuries and players being unavailable, I think we must just take it, no matter how the wins have come.

Three out of three in Europe after such a demanding season isn’t too bad, I don’t think.

Sure, the Boks haven’t set the rugby world talking because of their attacking play, but I’d like to agree with Jean de Villiers and say there is no team in the game right now who can defend as well as the Boks do. And let’s not forget, because so many people do, or, rather, choose to ignore, a very important fact about rugby (or football for that matter): generally, possession of the ball is split 50/50 ... which means you spend 50percent of the duration of every game defending, which is as important, if not more important, than attacking. Because if you kick your goals and keep the opposition out, no matter how much attacking they do, you’ll win more often than you lose ... the Boks now proving as much.

Anyway, on to another matter. While Bryan Habana was named SA’s Player of the Year for the third time in his career at a function in Cape Town at the beginning of the month, I can’t help but feel the South African Rugby Union must somehow change the date of the awards because things like the Currie Cup play-offs and the Boks’ European tour aren’t considered for the awards.

While Habana’s had an outstanding season and come back into wonderful form, I can’t help but feel that were the SA media, and even the public, asked to vote now for player of the year, there would be only one name written down: Eben Etzebeth. The Stormers lock has been sensational all season, in Super Rugby and for the Boks, and is now surely South Africa’s key man going forward.

It’s one thing to perform for your franchise in Super Rugby and play well on home turf, but to go to Europe for the first time in your life, as Etzebeth has just done, and boss the line-outs against three of European rugby’s best sides, is special. He is a freak of a rugby player and, to my mind, was our country’s best man in 2012. – The Star