In the absence of Warren Whiteley, Eben Etzebeth has been named Springbok captain for the 2017 Rugby Championship.
With Siya Kolisi serving as vice-captain, the Stormers leadership roles held by Kolisi and Etzebeth have been reversed by Bok coach Allister Coetzee.
The reason that 19-Test Kolisi – arguably the candidate most supporters would choose to lead South Africa into the 2017 Rugby Championship – was not promoted to the national captaincy may have something to do with his track record under Coetzee.
Throughout his tenure as WP and Stormers coach, Coetzee never could decide whether Kolisi was more effective on the open- or blindside of the scrum. While 57-Test Etzebeth is arguably one of the first names to be jotted down on the Bok team list, Kolisi’s place as a regular starter may be less certain, especially with the emergence of the Sharks’ Du Preez twins.
Etzebeth led the Boks in the last Test of the three-match series against France in June, when Whiteley was ruled out of action because of a groin injury.
Whiteley missed the remainder of the Super Rugby campaign as a result of the injury, and he will be out of action for at least six more weeks, ruling him out for the opening part of the 2017 Rugby Championship.
“Eben did an excellent job against France in Johannesburg, when he had to step in at short notice after the late withdrawal of Warren. He enjoys the respect of his teammates and also commands respect on and off the field,” said Springbok coach, Allister Coetzee.
“He is well supported by our strong leadership group which consists of Siya, Tendai Mtawarira and Elton Jantjies.”
Etzebeth has played in 57 Springbok Tests since making his debut on 9 June 2012 against England in Durban, when he was 20 years old.
The Springboks start their campaign against the Pumas on August 19 in Port Elizabeth and then travel to Argentina a week later for the return leg in Salta.
– All Out Rugby staff writer