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Eben Etzebeth has his say on who next Springboks captain should be

By Liam Heagney
Eben Etzebeth trains with Siya Kolisi ahead of last October's Rugby World Cup final in France (Photo by Thomas Samson/AFP via Getty Images)

Springboks talisman Eben Etzebeth has waded into the debate about who should captain the team in 2024. With Siya Kolisi, the skipper of the 2019 and 2023 Rugby World Cup-winning teams now based in France, there has been talk that Rassie Erasmus will look to appoint a home-based player to take over for the campaign ahead.

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South Africa open their season with a Qatar Airways Cup match versus Wales in London on June 22 and this will be followed by the two-Test home series against Ireland and the visit of Portugal the following month before The Rugby Championship then swings into gear.

Kolisi exited the Sharks after France 2023 to take up a contract at Racing 92 and with Erasmus relinquishing his SA director of rugby role to become head coach of the Springboks following the exit of Jacques Nienaber to Leinster, there are suggestions that the captaincy will be changed despite the wonderful success of Kolisi in the position since his 2018 appointment.

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Etzebeth, who moved back from France to join the Sharks in Durban for 2022/23, has been touted as a potential alternative to Kolisi as captain. Just over seven weeks before the Springboks face Wales in England, the second row has now spoken about the skipper situation.

Appearing on this week’s episode of The Rugby Pod, an interview he did in person with host Jim Hamilton as the Sharks are currently in London ahead of this Saturday’s EPCR Challenge Cup semi-final versus Clermont at the Twickenham Stoop, Etzebeth said: “Whoever is captain, things won’t change. Our process won’t change that much.

“Like when Siya was captain, you’d get a guy on the field who would speak to the ref about lineouts or a guy, if we get together, he speaks about whether our physicality is up to standard or whether the work rate is up to standard, so I think that will stay the same.

“If I get the opportunity it would be wonderful. If I don’t get the opportunity, also wonderful – as long as I am hopefully a part of the team. I know whoever is captain the other leaders in the team will support that guy.

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“It will always be the biggest honour in South African rugby to be captain of the Springboks but yeah, obviously not a big train smash if I’m not. There is some great candidates out there.

“I mean, Siya can still be captain. He is playing good rugby in France and he will always be part of this squad. We would love for him to still be captain but I mean that is up to the coaching staff whoever they pick. All the other leaders will back that guy.”

  • Click the arrow below to listen to Eben Etzebeth on this week’s Rugby Pod
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