Cape Town - Eben Etzebeth will have his biggest test as Springbok captain so far in Saturday's Rugby Championship clash against the All Blacks in Albany.
Standing in for regular captain Warren Whiteley, Etzebeth has now gone four games undefeated since taking over the captaincy with three wins and last weekend's draw against Australia making up his record.
A man of few words at his press conferences, Etzebeth is the type of leader that likes his performances to speak for themselves in setting an example for the rest of the team.
He looks calm on the surface, but the towering 25-year-old says the responsibility of the captaincy has sparked something inside of him.
"I’m even more competitive now … when you’re captain you want
the team to do even better," he told media on Friday.
"The competitive side of me has actually improved a
lot. You want to walk off the field as a winning captain."
The Boks have not beaten the All Blacks in New Zealand since 2009, but Etzebeth is not paying any attention to that.
"Once you jog onto the field any records disappear out of
your head," he said.
"You’re not really looking to break records, you just want to win the
Test match. I know they want to win the Test match and so do we … records don’t
count for much."
Since taking over the captaincy, Etzebeth has been asked numerous times if he has had to dial back his perceived natural aggression on the field.
"In over 60 Test matches I've had only one yellow card, and I've had only one yellow card in over 50 Super Rugby matches," he said.
"Let's just clear that up."
If the Boks beat the All Blacks on Saturday, they will take a significant step towards challenging for the Rugby Championship title with the October 7 clash against the All Blacks at Newlands shaoing up to be a tournament decider.
Defeat, though, will likely spell the end of the Bok title challenge.
Kick-off on Saturday is at 09:35.
15 Damian McKenzie, 14 Nehe Milner-Skudder, 13 Ryan Crotty, 12 Sonny Bill Williams, 11 Rieko Ioane, 10 Beauden Barrett, 9 Aaron Smith, 8 Kieran Read (captain), 7 Sam Cane, 6 Liam Squire; 5 Sam Whitelock, 4 Brodie Retallick, 3 Nepo Laulala, 2 Dane Coles, 1 Kane Hames
Substitutes: 16 Codie Taylor, 17 Wyatt Crockett, 18 Ofa Tu'ungafasi, 19 Scott Barrett, 20 Ardie Savea, 21 TJ Perenara, 22 Lima Sopoaga, 23 Anton Lienert-Brown
15 Andries Coetzee, 14 Raymond Rhule, 13 Jesse Kriel, 12 Jan Serfontein, 11 Courtnall Skosan, 10 Elton Jantjies, 9 Francois Hougaard, 8 Uzair Cassiem, 7 Jean-Luc du Preez, 6 Siya Kolisi, 5 Franco Mostert, 4 Eben Etzebeth (captain), 3 Ruan Dreyer, 2 Malcolm Marx, 1 Tendai Mtawarira
Substitutes: 16 Bongi Mbonambi, 17 Steven Kitshoff, 18 Trevor Nyakane, 19 Lood de Jager, 20 Pieter-Steph du Toit, 21 Rudy Paige, 22 Handre Pollard, 23 Damian de Allende