Springbok coach Rassie Erasmus says his side has not been distracted by the alleged assault charge that has hovered over star lock Eben Etzebeth.
The 27-year-old Etzebeth has been at the centre of a controversy following an alleged altercation that took place outside of a popular Langebaan bar in the early hours of Sunday morning on August 25.
Etzebeth has denied any wrongdoing and will take his place in the Springbok starting line-up for Saturday’s colossal World Cup clash against the All Blacks in Yokohama, but the case is still being investigated in South Africa and there is the possibility that he will have to return home mid-tournament to defend himself.
SA Rugby, meanwhile, has agreed to cooperate with authorities completely while Erasmus also came out before the squad left for Japan in defence of his player.
In Tokyo on Wednesday, however, Erasmus was asked again if the Etzebeth issue had served as a distraction as preparations for the World Cup continue. Erasmus, once more, stood by his player.
“When it first happened, it was not ideal but as I have said numerous times when I sat down with Eben, I’ve been coaching him since he was 18 at the Stormers and Western Province,” said Erasmus.
“I know him as a person, and I’ve got a good relationship with him and when he tells me something, I believe him.
“And there is a thorough investigation currently in South Africa and if something comes out of that, I’m going to believe what he tells me.
“We are going to co-operate fully with the authorities in South Africa, and whenever something from their side comes up and they want something to be done, we will fully co-operate with that.
“The players know his personality, I know his personality. In the team environment, spot-on – there have been no disruptions.”