Eben Itzebeth during the Captain Springboks Race at Mount Smart Stadium in Oakland on Friday, July 14, 2023 (Photo by Fiona Goodall/Getty Images)
- Eben Etzebeth chose to stay in New Zealand to captain the Springboks against the All Blacks on Saturday.
- Etzbeth’s father, Harry, passed away on Tuesday and Bok Lock was given the choice to stay with the team or go home.
- Etzebeth took part in the South African Captain’s Race in Auckland on Friday.
South African captain Eben Etzebeth will play against New Zealand tomorrow, Saturday, in Auckland, a team official told AFP, despite the death of his father.
Lock’s 31-year-old father passed away on Tuesdaywhich casts doubt on whether Etzibeth will play facing the rugby championship or will return home to provide for his family.
Itzibeth took part in the captain’s race at Mount Smart Stadium Friday morning, and Springbok media director Zina Isaacs confirmed to AFP that he will play.
A South African rugby official described Elizabeth as “extremely close” to his father, Harry.
Etzebeth stands as captain, with regular Springboks captain Siya Kolisi on the sidelines with a knee injury.
It will be Elizabeth’s first match since suffering a shoulder injury three months ago.
“It’s been a very difficult week for him and his family. As a team, we send our condolences to Etzbeth’s family,” All Blacks captain Sam Kane told reporters.
“It must have been very difficult for him on the other side of the world.
“We’ll see each other at the coin toss and then have a battle in the field.”
Both sides go into the clash on the back of winning the rugby championship in the opening round.
The All Blacks thrashed Argentina 41-12 away from home last Saturday, the same day South Africa beat Australia 43-12 in Pretoria.
Veteran South African number 8 Duane Vermeulen, who captained the team against Australia, was on the bench with six forwards and two backs off the bench.
This season’s rugby tournament has been reduced to three rounds due to the World Cup, which kicks off in September.
Saturday’s Test in Auckland is considered likely to decide the title and Cane expects a tough clash between the two rival groups.
“You can see from the bench they’ve picked, it’s going to be a game that will be won up front,” Keane said.
“We’re in for a big challenge. I’m just looking forward to it. It’s going to be everything.”
Kick-off is at 09:05 (South African time) on Saturday.
15 Beauden Barrett, 14 Will Jordan, 13 Ricco Ewan, 12 Jordie Barrett, 11 Mark Tilea, 10 Richie Muonga, 9 Aaron Smith, 8 Ardi Savea, 7 Sam Kane (Captain), 6 Shannon Frizzell, 5 Scott Barrett, 4 Brodie Retallick , 3 Tyrel Lomax, 2 Codie Taylor, 1 Ethan de Groot
Substitutes: 16 Samisoni Taukei’aho, 17 Tamaiti Williams, 18 Nepo Laulala, 19 Tupou Vaa’i, 20 Dalton Papali’i, 21 Finlay Christie, 22 Braydon Ennor, 23 Caleb Clarke
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