Coach Rassie Erasmus says he trusts Eben Etzebeth’s account of events following allegations of an unsavoury incident involving the Bok lock in Langebaan over the weekend.
On Sunday, rumours emerged on social media to suggest that Etzebeth had been involved in an ‘assault’ that allegedly had racial connotations.
Etzebeth first strongly refuted the claims, while SA Rugby stated on Monday that the lock would remain with the Springboks unless the police require reconsideration.
Addressing the subject following Monday’s announcement of the Boks’ World Cup squad, Erasmus said Etzebeth’s place in the travelling group would have been jeopardised had there been any truth to the story.
‘I was definitely worried about it when I first heard about it. If there was any truth to it that would have been a massive issue for us, but after chatting to Eben and hearing his side of the story, there is trust between a coach and player. I have to trust him to do some stuff on the field and win Test matches, and he must trust me to believe him when he tells me something.
‘I’m pretty comfortable with what he has told me, you can’t just believe what someone else says on social media. I’m comfortable that it’s not the truth, and if anything like that was the truth then they would not be part of a our team and would not go to the World Cup. But until something like that gets proven, then it’s just a rumour in my opinion but, yes, it would be a massive thing if true.’
Rassie Erasmus says he is backing Eben Etzebeth. pic.twitter.com/4V80SA4Nwv
— SA Rugby magazine (@SARugbymag) August 26, 2019
Photo: Anthony Au-Yeung/Getty Images