London – The quality of the Springboks’ dynamic lock pair Eben Etzebeth and Lood de Jager is increasingly being appreciated in the English press.
RWC 2015 is inevitably slipping from prominence in UK newspapers following the pool-phase exit of the main host nation – the first time this has occurred at the World Cup – but in what is left of the coverage, South Africa’s young second-row staffers are earning rave reviews.
Following the latest, imperious showing from the Bok pack with their Nos 4 and 5 very much to the fore, against Scotland at Newcastle, the following tribute was recorded by Michael Aylwin of The Guardian (www.theguardian.com): “De Jager’s partnership with Etzebeth is one for the ages, the two of them bounding, brutal identikits of each other.
“De Jager topped South Africa’s tackle and carry count (at St James’ Park) – a remarkable achievement for a tight forward.
“If ever a player deserved to keep his place despite the return (injury-permitting) of a centurion captain (Victor Matfield), he is it.
“It is a question that has been asked before, not always of the same person (an obvious reference to the jinxed Jean de Villiers – Sport24), and it remains relevant: should SA pick their captain?
“Matfield, all 38 years and 125 caps of him, had a superb game against Samoa ... but against the Scots De Jager was even better.”
The current Bok combination at lock also earned the nod together in the regular RWC “team of the week” chosen in the Daily Telegraph (www.telegraph.co.uk) after every weekend’s activity in the tournament.
Writer and “selector” Steve James, once an England cricketer who made his Test debut against South Africa in 1998, described the Cheetahs player as “simply immense” against Scotland and Etzebeth as “in his element as SA bullied the Scots”.
Etzebeth and De Jager front up again on Wednesday (17:45 SA time) to the United States in the Boks’ final pool fixture, with victory guaranteeing them a quarter-final ticket.
*Follow our chief writer on Twitter: @RobHouwing. Rob is attending the Bok pool phase of RWC 2015 to provide news and analysis for Sport24 readers.