Eben Etzebeth is revelling as Springboks captain and is leading from the front in all areas of his game.
The Springbok captain’s discipline was also a feature of Saturday’s Springboks 37-15 win against the Pumas in the Castle Lager Rugby Championship opening round.
Etzebeth’s strength at the breakdown forced the most turnovers by any Springbok (3) and he also claimed his team’s only lineout steal, while winning three of his own lineout catches. The Bok captain did not concede a penalty and the discipline of the Boks was outstanding, with the team conceding just six penalties. The Pumas were penalised 12 times.
Etzebeth’s defence was decisive. He made nine tackles and missed just the one and he was also prominent on attack with eight carries and eight passes. He beat one defender and also managed two offloads in the tackle.
He didn’t concede a turnover when in possession, with the entire team’s protection of the ball another of the impressive returns. The Pumas only had three scrum feeds because of Springbok handling mistakes.
Jaco Kriel was immense in the hour he played. The Lions captain made 13 tackles (the most from a Springbok), carried the ball five times, forced two turnovers and did not concede a penalty in a very disciplined and focused performance.
Uzair Cassiem’s statistical returns were also strong, with five passes, two offloads and the most carries among the Bok forwards (10). Cassiem defensively was active with eight tackles and one turnover won. He also won one of the Boks’ nine lineouts, with the primary Bok lineout jumpers being Etzebeth (3) and Franco Mostert (3).
The biggest improvement areas in the Springboks from last year have been their discipline in conceding less penalties and turnovers.
Etzebeth, in Port Elizabeth, was at the forefront of this disciplined approach.