son of Etzbeth (Photo by Grant Beecher/Gallow Images)
Eben Etzebeth’s return to competitive action will be coupled with increased responsibility as Springbok captain in their rugby championship encounter with the All Blacks in Auckland on Saturday.
The hanging lock has been on the sidelines since early April when he suffered a shoulder injury on duty for the Sharks, but has launched an effective comeback bid.
“Eben has been working hard in the last few months to fully recover from his shoulder injury and it’s great to see him back on the field for this important game. He’s a very experienced player with 110 caps, he’s been captain of the Springboks before and he’s been with the group of players in New Zealand for over a week, so he’s the perfect person to lead the team this weekend,” said Nationals coach Jack Nenaber.
Interestingly, although some still argue that the formation that comprehensively beat the Wallabies last weekend represented a “B team” of sorts, that perception has now been blown out of the water given that many champions from that performance. They are still present.
“We planned to pick a squad with a few key groups of players who have fully acclimatized and settled in New Zealand, with a pick of some players who started last week, and we’re pleased with the balance we’ve been able to achieve with this squad,” said Nienaber. “This allows us to give some players their first taste. International rugby this season coupled with a handful of players who are getting very physical against the Wallabies, and we think that will come in handy against a big opponent in the All Blacks.”
Most notably, Damien Willemsee will start at No. 10, while wingers Cheslin Colby and Makazole Mpembe have resisted pressure from hot-hitting duo Kurt Ley Arendsee and Kanan Moody.
15 Willy Le Roux, 14 Cheslin Colby, 13 Lujanio AM, 12 Damien De Allende, 11 Makazole Mpembe, 10 Damien Willemse, 9 Pfaff de Klerk, 8 Jasper Veese, 7 Franco Mostert, 6 Quagga Smith, 5 Lowwood de Jager, 4 Abin Etzebeth (Captain), 3 Frans Malherbe, 2 Bongi Mbonambi, 1 Stephen Ketchove
Substitutes: 16 Malcolm Marks, 17 Thomas Du Toit, 18 Vincent Koch, 19 RJ Sneeman, 20 Peter Steve Du Toit, 21 Duane Vermeulen, 22 Grant Williams, 23 Mane Lieboc
Match kick off at 09:35.
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