• Eben’s English move a go

    Allister Coetzee has confirmed that Springbok lock Eben Etzebeth will take up a short-term contract with an English club at the conclusion of the current tour, reports JON CARDINELLI in London.

    Last month, English media reported that Etzebeth was set to join Saracens for a spell of three months. At that stage, the English and European champions had just lost captain Alistair Hargreaves and were looking to bolster their lock stocks.

    Saracens coach Mark McCall was then quoted as saying the move was ‘unlikely’. A month later, however, and it’s been confirmed that Etzebeth will feature for an English club from December.

    ‘I can assure you it is definitely going to happen. I’m not sure which club he will join though,’ the Bok coach said on Monday from the team’s base in London. South Africa will play England at Twickenham this weekend.

    This may, however, compromise the player’s form and fitness ahead of an important 2017 season for both the Stormers and Boks.

    ‘Eben Etzebeth playing up here would be a great experience for him because he would be playing against top-quality locks in the northern hemisphere game,’ Coetzee said. ‘He has played against the best in the southern hemisphere. The conditions would be different and he would learn from it.

    ‘But on the other hand it wouldn’t be good for the Springboks because Eben would be missing out on a conditioning phase. He would go straight from English club rugby into Super Rugby and then the June Tests next year and so on.

    ‘Hopefully it will only be for this year.’

    Photo: Steve Bardens/RFU

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    Jon Cardinelli