Rugby Championship

Eben on Siya: 'I love that man'

2018-08-17 21:41
Eben Etzebeth (left) and Siya Kolisi (Gallo Images).

Durban - The last time Eben Etzebeth played for the Springboks, he had captained the side for almost a full international season. 

Warren Whiteley had been named skipper at the start of 2017, but an injury on the eve of the third June Test against France ruled him out for the year and Etzebeth was given the job.

It was a responsibility that he enjoyed and one that he took very seriously. 

READ: Etzebeth describes 'emotional', 'lonely' spell on sidelines

By the time Etzebeth led the Boks out against Wales onto the Principality Stadium turf in the final Test of last year, he had captained South Africa in 11 straight Tests. 

Results didn't always go his way - the Boks won just 5 of those matches - but Etzebeth led from the front with his physical, no-nonsense approach. 

Injury then struck the Stormers powerhouse and he, like Whiteley, was laid low for a period of around eight months. 

A lot has changed since then. 

The Boks have a new coach in Rassie Erasmus and, against England in June, Siya Kolisi made history by becoming South Africa's first black captain in a Test match. 

Kolisi led the side to an important 2-1 series win, and he has been given the captaincy once again for this year's Rugby Championship. 

Much of the pre-match talk has centred around Etzebeth's return, and when he was asked about his relationship with Kolisi, it became clear just how close the two are. 

"Everyone knows that Siya and I have a pretty good relationship. When he was announced captain, I phoned him and he told me how he was feeling and how excited he was," Etzebeth explained this week.

"I've worked with Siya since U-18 and just to see him grow as a man and a leader in the past two years has been wonderful.

"Can I say I love another man? Because I really love the guy. It's awesome for me to see him as captain, leading this team. I'll be there to back him up all the way."

Kolisi on Friday then revealed that his relationship with Etzebeth had been a major contributing factor in his decision to leave the Eastern Cape for Cape Town all those years ago. 

"Our friendship started when we were in high school already," Kolisi said.

"That's one of the reasons I moved to Cape Town.

"A lot of people think him being captain or me being captain would get in between us, but it's actually made us stronger.

"I'm just excited that he's back and he's going to be playing tomorrow. I know how hard he's worked and I saw how much it hurt him in June when he couldn't be here."

There are four Springbok captains in the starting line-up: Kolisi, Etzebeth, Whiteley and Pieter-Steph du Toit, who led the side against Wales in Washington in June.

Kick-off on Saturday is at 17:05.


South Africa

15 Willie le Roux, 14 Makazole Mapimpi, 13 Lukhanyo Am, 12 Andre Esterhuizen, 11 Aphiwe Dyantyi, 10 Handre Pollard, 9 Faf de Klerk, 8 Warren Whiteley, 7 Siya Kolisi (captain), 6 Francois Louw, 5 Pieter-Steph du Toit, 4 Eben Etzebeth, 3 Frans Malherbe, 2 Malcolm Marx, 1 Tendai Mtawarira

Substitutes: 16 Bongi Mbonambi, 17 Steven Kitshoff, 18 Thomas du Toit, 19 Marvin Orie, 20 Marco van Staden, 21 Embrose Papier, 22 Lionel Mapoe, 23 Damian Willemse


15 Emiliano Boffelli, 14 Bautista Delguy, 13 Matias Moroni, 12 Bautista Ezcurra, 11 Ramiro Moyano, 10 Nicolas Sanchez, 9 Gonzalo Bertranou, 8 Javier Ortega Desio, 7 Marcos Kremer, 6 Pablo Matera, 5 Matias Alemanno, 4 Guido Petti, 3 Juan Figallo, 2 Agustin Creevy (captain), 1 Nahuel Tetaz Chaparro

Substitutes: 16 Diego Fortuny, 17 Santiago Garcia Botta, 18 Santiago Medrano, 19 Tomas Lavanini, 20 Tomas Lezana, 21 Martin Landajo, 22 Santiago Gonzalez Iglesias, 23 Juan Cruz Mallia


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