Cape Town – English Premiership rugby champions Saracens are
cagey over speculation that Eben Etzebeth, one of relatively few genuine
superstars in the current Springbok side, is set to join them after the Bok
tour of Europe next month.
Sarries media officer Matthew Hennessey, upon inquiry by
email, simply told Sport24 on Monday: “I’m afraid we can’t comment.”
It was reported in Afrikaans newspaper Rapport on Sunday that Etzebeth -- who is presumably earmarked just
for a few weeks of service to the north London club as he is still contracted
to the Stormers for Super Rugby 2017 -- will stay behind after the three-Test
Bok tour in November (matches against England, Italy and Wales) to represent
That would mean Etzebeth linking up with compatriots like
his former Stormers skipper Schalk Burger, as well as Michael Rhodes, in the
Even if the 24-year-old second-row giant is only planning to
have a few matches for the English outfit, it will dangerously mean that he
largely sacrifices a second consecutive off-season.
Etzebeth spent much of the last South African summer, when
most home-based players are taking a vital break and focusing primarily on
conditioning, representing NTT Docomo Red Hurricanes in Japan after the rigours
of the 2015 World Cup.
A spell with Saracens is likely to only have the effect of
tiring one of the Boks’ major ongoing assets further; the muscular enforcer has
already, arguably, shown some signs of understandable fatigue as the
problematic Rugby Championship wore on for the once-mighty national side.
If the rumours of his Saracens deal prove true, he may well
be less than sprightly, and additionally vulnerable to injury, when the
Stormers begin their far more perilous schedule than experienced last year – in
2017 they will play the New Zealand rather than Australian sides in ordinary
*Follow our chief
writer on Twitter: @RobHouwing