Rudolph Jacobs
Rugby Journalist
2 minute read
22 Nov 2018
8:46 am

Will the Boks’ enforcer be back against Wales?

Rudolph Jacobs

While Eben Etzebeth is available again, it's not as if the national team missed him exactly in the last few weeks.

Eben Etzebeth during the South African national rugby team training session at WSC Treforest Grounds on November 19, 2018 in Cardiff, Wales. (Photo by Steve Haag/Gallo Images)

The expected high-profile return of abrasive lock Eben Etzebeth could dominate the final Springbok team announcement of the year in Cardiff on Thursday.

The 27-year-old Etzebeth, who has earned 74 caps and captained the Boks in 11 matches last year, missed their games against France and Scotland after picking up a foot injury in the opening match of their European tour
against England at Twickenham.

With the lock having returned to full training, his comeback was expected to be the only change for the Test against Wales this weekend, with the Boks looking for their third tour win and their eighth victory in 14 Tests this season.

Bok backline coach Mzwandile Stick said they would field their “strongest possible line-up” against the Red Dragons, who were on an eight-match winning streak.

While Etzebeth could replace RG Snyman, young Embrose Papier was expected to continue in his role at scrumhalf.

“We started a bit slowly in June when we played against England, and we knew we had to give opportunities
to players and let them play together as we increased the depth of our squad,” he said.

He admitted the tourists were facing a stiff challenge on Saturday: “We know it’s going to be very tough.

“Wales have a well-balanced team. They are good on attack, strong on defence and also have an impressive kicking game.

“However, we want to finish the tour on a positive note, so we will give it our best effort.”

Stick gave credit to the Bok players for the way they adjusted to the conditions in Europe.

“They worked extremely hard to be well prepared and I think that is showing in our play at the moment,” he said.

“In that respect, we’ve seen a lot of progress and improvement in our squad, especially if you take into account that we’ve given plenty of chances to a number of players since June as we try and increase our depth for the [2019] World Cup.”

Probable Bok starting XV: Willie le Roux, S’bu Nkosi, Jesse Kriel, Damian de Allende, Aphiwe Dyantyi, Handre Pollard, Embrose Papier, Duane Vermeulen, Pieter-Steph du Toit, Siya Kolisi (c), Franco Mostert, Eben Etzebeth, Frans Malherbe, Malcolm Marx, Steven Kitshoff.

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