Zizi Kodwa, the minister of sport, arts and culture, wished the Springboks all the best for Saturday’s Rugby Championship showdown against New Zealand, especially after the turbulent week the team has had behind them.
After the Springboks dominated the Wallabies at Loftus Versfeld last week, they have to play against their great rivals, the All Blacks, in Auckland, New Zealand on Saturday at 09:00.
“This match will be particularly poignant, as the Springboks’ captain for the match, Eben Etzebeth, has decided to lead the team even after the death of his father this week,” says Kodwa.
The 31-year-old lock’s participation in the Test was in the balance after the news of his father Harry’s death.
Etzebeth waved the scepter on Friday during the traditional captain’s training session before a test when Zeena Isaacs, the Springboks’ media manager, confirmed to AFP that he will play.
RNews reported earlier that this is a very emotional time for the veteran player of 110 tests because he enjoyed a very close bond with his father.
Kodwa says Etzebeth’s decision to stay in New Zealand and lead his team is “extremely admirable”.
“It is also symbolic of the character of this special Springbok team.”
Kodwa expressed his deepest condolences to Etzebeth and assured him that the entire country stands firmly behind him in this difficult time.
“I wish Eben and the Boks good luck with their match against the All Blacks. I have no doubt that the team will give it their all in Auckland.”