Cape Town - Springbok captain Eben Etzebeth has dismissed the notion that he should not be leading the national team.
READ: I'm not going anywhere, says Bok coach
Following South Africa’s 24-22 loss to Wales in Cardiff at the weekend, the captaincy issue was discussed by pundits in the SuperSport studio.
Former Springbok coach Nick Mallett questioned whether it was the right decision to make Etzebeth captain when Warren Whiteley got injured earlier this year.
“I thought again there was a missed opportunity in the leadership situation. Warren Whiteley is acknowledged as being the best captain of a franchise team in South Africa and he was outstanding when he captained the Springboks. When he got injured, Siya Kolisi, who is another franchise captain, was playing well enough to take over. I know there was a feeling that Kolisi had to nail down his place in the team first, but the form that he was showing would warrant having a look at him as captain in the interim until Warren came back. But least the Bok captaincy would have been given to a man who captains his franchise,” Mallett said after the Test.
Mallett said his comments were “by no means” a criticism of Etzebeth, who he called “a great guy”, before continuing: “But if you look at their personalities, Etzebeth is known for his physicality and ability to get stuck into the faces of the opposition. But you need be withdrawn from the impact situation to make clear decisions as the captain on the field. He also doesn’t look like someone who enjoys picking someone up off the ground or congratulating and motivating the people around him. Whereas Siya seems to thrive on that. He seems to play better when given an opportunity to encourage the players around him. I think he would have done a great job for the Springboks.”
Upon the Springbok team’s arrival in Johannesburg on Monday, Etzebeth was upset when probed on the comments made regarding his captaincy.
When told that the discussion took place in the SuperSport studio after Saturday's Test, Etzebeth responded, as quoted by Netwerk24: “They (rugby pundits) don’t always know what they’re talking about. I enjoy the captaincy a lot and I don’t easily let myself get distracted from the action. I always want to be intensely involved. I do what is expected of me and the captaincy is something that I embrace and cherish.”
Etzebeth left the field at half-time of the Cardiff Test with an arm injury.
The burly lock's arm was in a sling on Monday, with the player saying it was a nerve in his neck giving him problems.
He’ll be consulting a specialist in Cape Town to gain more clarity on the injury.