Eben Etzebeth had an outstanding first season of professional rugby.
The second rower, who turned 21 on 29 October, was a deserved winner of the SA Young Player of the Year award. A product of the WP Rugby Institute, he had no problem making the step up to Super Rugby in February and his selection for the Springboks in June, for the Test series against England, was a no-brainer.
Etzebeth has inevitably drawn comparisons with former Bok lock Bakkies Botha, as both perform an enforcer-type role, but the Stormers lock has a calmness and measured aggression that Botha did not have at the same age.
It’s scary to think how good he could become.
In the new issue of SA Rugby magazine, Saru high performance manager Rassie Erasmus explains why the Botha comparison makes him ‘uncomfortable’, what makes Etzebeth such an imposing player and why he doesn’t believe the youngster will stagnate.
Heyneke Meyer talks about what he likes about Etzebeth, the one thing that worries him about him, and why he came down hard on him following the Nathan Sharpe headbutt.
SA Rugby magazine also asks Etzebeth about his rookie season, the Botha comparison, the Sharpe headbutt, his Test preparations and his toughest opponent.
Also in the new issue:
– The Springbok goal-kickers had failed to transfer their success on the training field to the high-pressure Test arena going into the end-of-year tour
– Central contracts: Why South Africa’s top players must be contracted to Saru and not to their provincial unions
– The Blitzboks made a promising start to the new sevens season
– Former Sharks scrumhalf Rory Kockott has let his rugby do the talking at French club Castres
– Jaque Fourie aims to resurrect his Springbok career in 2015 once he’s fulfilled his Japanese club obligations
– Josh Strauss on his move to Glasgow, the possibility of playing for Scotland, and the Lions’ relegation from Super Rugby
– How Western Province beat the odds to win their first Currie Cup in 11 years
– How Alan Solomons revived Eastern Province rugby
– A band of rugby missionaries wants to grow rugby in Africa