The Springboks stand to attention for the official team photograph in Padova on Friday. Photo: Gallo Images

PADOVA – The Springboks are expecting a very difficult contest when they meet Italy at the Stadio Euganeo in Padova on Saturday (4pm SA time), according to captain Eben Etzebeth.

The Springbok lock has shrugged off a lower leg injury and will lead South Africa for the 10th time this season. Etzebeth said that he is happy with the teams’ preparations the past week in Padova.

“It was good to start the week, knowing we arrived from Paris with a win,” said Etzebeth.

“However, as soon as we started with our preparations for Italy, we very quickly put the French game behind us.

“We are looking forward to playing Italy on their home ground. We will not go into the match looking for revenge or anything like that. We have a process and an approach for each match, and we will stick to that.

“For the players based at overseas clubs, it will be their last match of the tour, and we are all excited to play tomorrow and hopefully deliver a good performance.”

Etzebeth also said he was happy to have Pieter-Steph du Toit back in the side and excited to see hooker Bongi Mbonambi getting his first start for the Boks.

“Pieter-Steph gives us another lineout option, he is a good ball-carrier and a very good rugby player,” said Etzebeth.

“We will obviously miss Siya Kolisi, who went home for the birth of his second child, but in Pieter-Steph, we have someone who brings something different.

“When I first heard Bongi was getting a start, I went up to him and said ‘Well done’. He deserves it, he has been playing well all season at the Stormers, and I am excited for him.

“He is a good lineout-thrower, and I know he is looking forward to starting the match,” said Etzebeth.