Etzebeth – ‘Captaincy’s made me more competitive’

Springbok captain Eben Etzebeth believes wearing the armband has enhanced his competitive nature ahead of the Rugby Championship clash with the All Blacks in Albany on Saturday.

Etzebeth has filled in as Bok captain admirably in the absence of regular captain Warren Whiteley, continuing to produce stellar performances on the pitch.

And the 25-year-old admits that the added responsibility has made him even more determined to win.

When asked by sarugbymag.co.za if he should reduce his competitive streak at times, the bruising lock responded: “It’s funny, I’ve only had one yellow card in 60 Tests, so I won’t be in the sin-bin that much. Also in Super Rugby, over 50 games and one yellow card, just to comment on that.

“You are even more competitive when you are captain, you actually want the team to do even better, you want to win more.

“The competitive side of me has actually improved a lot. You want to walk off the field as a victorious captain.”

Meanwhile, Etzebeth refuted suggestions that the All Blacks would be weakened without experienced first-choice props Owen Franks and Joe Moody, who are injured.

Kane Hames and Nepo Laulala have been drafted in as replacements and have just eight caps between them but Etzebeth rates them highly despite their lack of experience.

“It’s the same as the Springboks, if you put on an All Blacks jersey you must be very good,” he said.

“I really rate them [Hames and Laulala], they’re good players. I know they’ve lost two experienced props but they still have a guy like [Wyatt] Crockett on the bench who also brings a lot of experience. They are obviously two good players if they get picked ahead of him.

“It won’t be too much of a loss to them. Once you step in to play for your country, you want to do everything to play really well.”