Rassie has indicated that he’s keen to give the 26-year old a run of about 60 minutes. Stormers lock Eben Etzebeth is set to feature in the Springboks Rugby Championship opener against Argentina, despite not having made a competitive appearance since November last year.
The 26-year-old left the field in the 24-22 defeat to Wales in Cardiff and had been sidelined for close to nine months with a shoulder injury, missing the entirety of the Super Rugby season, as well as the Boks’ June internationals.
Etzebeth to start despite question marks over fitness
Despite an obvious lack of match practice, Springbok director of rugby Rassie Erasmus revealed on Monday that the bruising lock is fit enough to play at 60 minutes in Durban on Saturday.
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“His match fitness is a concern, and it’s for that reason that we won’t see him playing much more than 60 minutes this week,” he told the press.
“We just received the clearance from the specialist. He’s been training full on with us ever since the end of the Stormers’ Super Rugby campaign, but we’ve been waiting on this.”
An abundance of second-row riches
With the emergence of RG Snyman, the return to form of his partner at the Bulls, Lood de Jager, as well as the likelihood of Peter-Steph du Toit returning to lock, the second row is one of the positions where Erasmus has sufficient cover ahead of what will be a gruelling ten weeks. Despite these riches, Erasmus indicated that he will more than likely start with Etzebeth.
“I’d prefer to start a player who is in this situation than play him from the bench. If we start someone else and then there is an injury in the first minute, we might be in trouble.”
Etzebeth made his Test debut against England in Durban and has maintained first-choice status throughout his international career which has seen him pick up 67 caps. He captained the Boks throughout 2017 following Warren Whiteley’s long-term injury.
Jean-Luc du Preez,
Thomas du Toit,
Pieter-Steph du Toit,
Siya Kolisi (captain),
Akker van der Merwe,
Marco van Staden,
Faf de Klerk,
Willie le Roux,
Ivan van Zyl,
Forwards: Marco Ciccioli, Lucas Favre, Santiago García Botta, Santiago Medrano, Nahuel Tetaz Chaparro, Mayco Vivas, Juan Pablo Zeiss, Agustín Creevy (captain), Diego Fortuny, Julián Montoya, Matías Alemanno, Ignacio Larrague, Tomás Lavanini, Franco Molina, Guido Petti, Rodrigo Bruni, Santiago Grondana, Marcos Kremer, Juan Manuel Leguizamón, Pablo Matera, Javier Ortega Desio.
Backs: Gonzalo Bertranou, Tomás Cubelli, Martín Landajo, Joaquín Díaz Bonilla, Nicolás Sánchez, Jerónimo de la Fuente, Bautista Ezcurra, Santiago González Iglesias, Matías Moroni, Matías Orlando, Sebastián Cancelliere, Bautista Delguy, Ramiro Moyano, Emiliano Boffelli, Juan Cruz Mallía.