Eben Etzebeth has said that the Lions series victory ranks as one of the highlights of his career, and that the Springbok side is hungry for more success in the future.
Asked what his emotions were ahead of the series decider on Saturday, Etzebeth revealed that he made a rather prophetic prediction on the morning of the Test.
“We always knew the third Test was going to be a close one and was going to be a massive contest. We knew the team with the best kicking game would win the Test.
“The funny thing is that I had breakfast with Morne and I told him ‘it might actually come down to you winning a series for South Africa again 12 years later’
“His reply was ‘I hope we’re a bit further ahead this time by the time I come on’ but it didn’t happen that way! Special mention to him for coming back from France, playing for the Bulls and being a part of this series.
“It’s just nice to be a part of this team. What a great experience.”
In a Test as tightly contested, there were certain key moments that were grasped by the Springboks and not the Lions. Liam Williams not passing to compatriot Josh Adams is one moment Etzebeth was asked about.
“To be honest can’t remember that moment, my head was probably stuck in a breakdown somewhere. I think a lot of things could have gone both ways but the most important thing for us is getting the series victory, whether you win by one point or twenty.”
In his jubilation, Etzebeth concedes that much of the match remains a blur but that he will not soon forget Morne Steyn’s winning kick.
“I’m so happy, I can’t remember much of the game, but I can remember when Morne kicked the winning kick. It’s awesome sat here on the winning side.
“It’s a once in a lifetime opportunity, I don’t think anyone in the squad will get this opportunity again. So we’re just grateful and we’re going to have a good celebration tonight.”
The Springboks faced unprecedented obstacles in the lead-up to the Lions Series and their victory should be regarded as a triumph against all odds. Etzebeth has been clear that while the Boks will savour the victory, the hard work starts again next week in preparation for the Rugby Championship.
“It’s great for us as a team, we had lots of struggles, lots of things going against us. So to get over the final hurdle and win the Test series is massive for us.
“We’ll enjoy tonight, probably enjoy tomorrow too, but then Saturday we’re playing Argentina and we’ll go into that fully focussed, fully prepared and hungry for more success.”