CAPE TOWN - Springbok captain Eben Etzebeth says their third spot in the World Rugby rankings is “pretty good”, but believes the Boks have “two more spots” to climb before they’ll be satisfied.
The Boks have jumped from seventh to third in the rankings after winning all five of their Tests this year - three against France in June and two Rugby Championship victories over Argentina.
And although the world-class second-rower acknowledged that it is a huge improvement from last year - when the Boks won only four of their 12 internationals - Etzebeth says they want to get hold of the top spot.
“We’re still not where we want to be - we all know where the Springboks want to be. From seventh to third in five games is pretty good for us, but we’re looking to climb that ladder two more spots,” the Bok skipper said.
After two impressive wins over Los Pumas, Etzebeth is well aware of the fact that the real test will come in the next two weeks when they travel to Australasia for their fixtures against the Wallabies and the All Blacks.
“I think it’s probably on points difference between us (40) and New Zealand (22). So after these two games we’ll know where we stand,” Etzebeth said.
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The Stormers vice captain made it clear that they are expecting a different Australian threat to what they faced from the Aussie teams in Super Rugby, but he was also confident about the boxes they’ve ticked until now in terms of preparation.
“There will be a difference, but luckily we faced them in Super Rugby, so the guys know what they do. We are well prepared,” he said. “We’ve had better preparation this year, we had more time to prepare. Coach Allister also had more time to prepare and to get the group and management team together. "
When asked about his most enjoyable moments since becoming the 59th Bok captain, Etzebeth said: “I like expressing my emotions on the field a little bit more, like when we get into a huddle. I also enjoy running out in front knowing you’re leading for your country. It’s something special. I never imagined it.”
Meanwhile, Springbok prop Coenie Oosthuizen underwent a scan on Tuesday in Durban to examine the rib injury he sustained in the Boks' victory over the Pumas on Saturday. The scan revealed no fracture.
Oosthuizen will therefore join the Bok squad when it reassembles in Johannesburg on Friday. Dr Konrad von Hagen, the Boks’ team doctor, has confirmed however that the front ranker will only be considered for selection for the Test against Australia on 9 September if his pain and discomfort settles sufficiently.