Rugby Championship

Coetzee: When Etzebeth speaks, everyone listens

2017-08-30 07:26
Eben Etzebeth (Gallo)

Cape Town - Springbok coach Allister Coetzee believes that the Springbok leadership group, under the captaincy of Eben Etzebeth, is clicking. 

This time, last year, the Boks were puzzling under Adriaan Strauss and there didn't appear to be many other leaders in a group that was in the middle of one of the worst year's in its country's history. 

With Warren Whiteley handed the captaincy this year after Strauss's retirement, the Boks started well with two wins at home against France and it looked like they had found themselves a leader that would inspire. 

Then, ahead of the third Test in Johannesburg, Whiteley was ruled out with a groin injury.

When Whiteley was told that he would require surgery, and then that he would miss the whole of the Rugby Championship, Coetzee needed to find another leader. 

Etzebeth, who had skippered against France at Ellis Park in Whiteley's absence, was the coach's choice. 

Now, all-of-a-sudden, the Boks have a number of leaders in their side. 

Whiteley is expected to captain when he returns, hopefully at the end of the year, but Etzebeth has the likes of Siya Kolisi, Tendai Mtawarira, Jaco Kriel and Elton Jantjies - all players who are being credited for the maturity the Boks have shown so far this year. 

"I'm very chuffed with the leadership of the team. In the past we probably had one captain, but now we've got two or four other strong candidates," Coetzee told media in Cape Town on Tuesday.

"It's been an opportunity with losing Warren for Eben Etzebeth, and he's done really well with Siya Kolisi and Beast (Mtawarira) supporting him, and also Jaco Kriel in the mix too.

"The way our team functions and what we call our 'battle talk', how that is executed on the field under pressure, when something happens against the run of play, how they control it is fantastic.

"Eben will take care of managing the referee, one of the other leaders will rectify the area and the problem ... it's really a collective process."

Etzebeth had earned a reputation as a hothead who was all-too-often involved in off-the-ball incidents, even though his disciplinary record at Super Rugby level in terms of yellow cards is impressive. 

But, in his three games as Bok skipper, he has not demonstrated anything but an ability to lead from the front with hard-grafting, physical performances while he has appeared to be a good communicator with both the match officials and his players. 

"He's been really good," Coetzee added.

"He doesn't talk a lot, but when he speaks it makes sense and everyone listens."

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