Rugby Championship

Etzebeth eyes top ranking for Boks

2017-08-29 22:11
Eben Etzebeth (Gallo)

Cape Town - Eben Etzebeth says he is growing into his role as Springbok skipper, but his main aim is to see the Boks at the top of the pile in world rugby. 

The horrors of 2016, which saw South Africa lose four of their 12 Test matches, saw the Springboks slip to 7th in the world rankings by the end of the year. 

Losses to Argentina, Ireland, Italy and Wales all contributed. 

This year, though, the Boks have recorded five wins from five and have moved up into the top three in the world behind only England and New Zealand. 

And while South African rugby seems in a far healthier state than it was this time, last year, the towering lock knows that there is still a long way to go.

"We're still not where we want to be," Etzebeth said in Cape Town on Tuesday.

"We all know where the Springboks want to be. From 7th to 3rd in five games is pretty good for us but we're still looking to climb that ladder two more spots."

Next up for the Boks is a clash against Australia in Perth on September 9. That match, and the one the weekend after against the All Blacks in Albany, will make or break the tournament for the Springboks, Etzebeth believes.

"This coming tour is going to be massive, probably deciding the Rugby Championship," he said.

"After these two weeks we'll know where we stand and what we need to do in the last two weeks.

"We're confident, but more excited to see how we go against two of the best teams in the world.

"We faced them in Super Rugby, so we are well prepared for them. We'll do a few touch-ups, but we play them every weekend in Super Rugby so we no what to expect."

On a personal note, Etzebeth said he was loving the captaincy since taking over from the injured Warren Whiteley ahead of the third Test against France back in June. 

"Unbelievable," he said when asked to talk about the experience.

"It's been probably the best time in my life with the Springboks. I've enjoyed every moment.

"I like expressing my emotions on the field a little bit more when we get into a huddle. Running out in front for your country is really special and something I never imagined in my wildest dreams.

"It's starting to come naturally to me now."


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