When you’re up against the All Blacks, you can’t afford to back down – you have to be prepared to fight fire with fire, so to speak.
And who can stoke a better fire on the rugby field than Eben Etzebeth?
The 31-year-old lock has sufficiently recovered from his shoulder injury and he will lead the Springboks for the 13th time in his career when they play against the All Blacks in Auckland on Saturday.
Ten players who traveled to New Zealand earlier to acclimatise have been included in the match squad and Etzebeth will lead hard-nosed Cheslin Kolbe, Jasper Wiese, Malcolm Marx and Kwagga Smith on the field.
Needless to say, the Springbok coach is excited to have a player of Etzebeth’s caliber back in the fifteen.
“Eben is a very experienced player who boasts 110 tests to his name, while he has also worn the captaincy armband before. He is undoubtedly the right person to lead the team,” said Nienaber.
Duane Vermeulen, who led the team with so many successes last weekend against Australia at Loftus Versfeld, was included on the substitutes’ bench along with players such as RG Snyman, Malcolm Marx, Pieter-Steph du Toit and Manie Libbok.
Damien Willemse will be the no. Wearing 10 jersey against the All Blacks.
“We planned well to maintain a good balance between players who are already used to New Zealand conditions and some of the men who ran against the Wallabies last week.”
Nienaber now wants to give as many players as possible a chance to display their skills in a match situation – especially with a view to the upcoming World Cup tournament.
He knows, however, that the All Blacks will not simply hensoup on their home ground.
“New Zealand has a strong pack of forwards and dangerous backs. They showed just last week (against Argentina) what they can do when they have enough space on the field. We will undoubtedly have to fire on all pistons and our defense will have to be rock solid.”
The match starts at 09:05 on Saturday and the action will be broadcast live on SuperSport.
Springboks: Willie le Roux (full back), Cheslin Kolbe (right wing), Lukhanyo Am (outside centre), Damian de Allende (inside centre), Makazole Mapimpi (left wing), Damian Willemse (fly-half), Faf de Klerk (scrum-half), Jasper Wiese (eighth man) , Franco Mostert (flank), Kwagga Smith (flank), Lood de Jager (lock), Eben Etzebeth (captain and lock), Frans Malherbe (prop), Bongi Mbonambi (hooker) and Steven Kitshoff (prop). Substitutes: Malcolm Marx, Thomas du Toit, Vincent Koch, RG Snyman, Pieter-Steph du Toit, Duane Vermeulen, Grant Williams and Manie Libbok.
Results of the last ten matches between South Africa and New Zealand:
16 September 2017: All Blacks 57 – 0 Springboks
7 October 2017: All Blacks 25 – 24 Springboks
15 September 2018: Springboks 36 – 34 All Blacks
6 October 2018: All Blacks 32 – 30 Springboks
27 July 2019: 16 each
21 September 2019: All Blacks 23 – 13 Springboks
25 September 2021: All Blacks 19 – 17 Springboks
2 October 2021: Springboks 31 – 29 All Blacks
6 August 2022: Springboks 26 – 10 All Blacks
13 August 2022: All Blacks 35 – 23 Springboks.