Cape Town - The truest test of a player’s quality at Super Rugby level comes in his second season and with Eben Etzebeth it’s no exception.
Although there is no doubting the lock’s ability, Die Burger’s website
reports that there are question marks over his temperament when opposition teams start to intimidate him.
Etzebeth will on Saturday start for the first time this season when the Stormers take on the Waratahs in Sydney.
He replaces the injured De Kock Steenkamp as the only change to the starting team which lost the Blues by one point in Albany last week.
“It will be interesting to see how Eben reacts now that he knows he’s a marked man. Last year nobody knew who he was when he burst onto the scene,” said Stormers coach, Allister Coetzee.
Etzebeth was suspended for two weeks last season when he ‘gently’ head-butted Wallabies lock, Nathan Sharpe, in a Test match in Perth after the two were involved in a scuffle.
“It’s simple - Eben knows he is not supposed to get involved in a fight. He is more mature now and he has learnt out of last year’s incident in the Rugby Championship,” Coetzee added.
“You never want to limit a player’s aggression, but there has to be self-control.
“I’m looking for controlled aggression throughout the pack, especially this week.”
Coetzee went on to say that he expects a tough test up front against the ‘Tahs, as they possess an almost all-Wallaby forward pack and with the inclusion of Etzebeth, not only will the Stormers be bulked up in the physical department, but he will possibly also maintain - or even improve - the standard set by Steenkamp in the lineouts.
Coetzee admits that Etzebeth may still take a while before he can start making an impact in the same way he did last season.
“Eben will probably not be as sharp as De Kock is, but remember how good he was last year. He is smart when it comes to competing opposition lineouts,” Coetzee concluded.
The clash in Sydney kick off at 11:40 (SA time) on Saturday.