Etzebeth’s ripped and ready

Springbok enforcer Eben Etzebeth is on the cover of the new SA Rugby magazine, on sale this week.

A study of Etzebeth’s professional career is more a study of collisions than statistics. Etzebeth can be found at the centre of any fracas. While there are aspects of his game that have peaked and troughed over a five-year period, that trademark glare and desire to engage have been constant.

Eben Etzebeth doesn’t take a backward step for any player. This much was true at the start of his professional career, and is still true five years and over 50 Tests later. Indeed, it’s rather fitting that Etzebeth’s 50th Test appearance for the Boks was marked by an altercation.

In the buildup to the match against Australia in Brisbane, much was made about the 24-year-old reaching the milestone sooner than any South African player in history. In the heat of battle, however, Etzebeth took responsibility as a senior player.

Allan Alaalatoa made a mistake when he decided to throw down a physical challenge late in the second half. The 125kg Wallabies prop attempted to shove his opponent backwards. The formidable 2.04m, 117kg frame of Etzebeth just kept on advancing.

'He looks like Tarzan, and certainly doesn't play like Jane!' observed Australian commentator Rod Kafer, as the two players sized each other up.

The smile on Etzebeth's face was frightening. Players from both sides sensed the impending danger and reacted, although Quade Cooper only succeeded in tearing part of the jersey from Etzebeth's hulk-like body. Juan de Jongh also failed to keep his Stormers and Bok teammate from marching on the not insignificant figure of Alaalatoa.

In this issue of SA Rugby magazine, chief rugby writer Jon Cardinelli looks at the impact Etzebeth has made over the course of his Test career, as well as the role he could play for the Boks when they meet England at Twickenham on 12 November.

Also in the new issue:

– Is this the end of an aura? The Springboks will need to win back some respect when they face the best of the northern hemisphere this November

–  South Africa's traditional power game was not in evidence during the Rugby Championship. Senior writer Craig Lewis analyses the back-row's performance

– The 10-12 axis of Owen Farrell and George Ford bring creativity and world-class goal-kicking to England's game

– Eddie Jones has got England humming, and their sights are set firmly on South Africa this November

– The All Blacks' culture has allowed them to remain one step ahead of the rest

– Cheetahs prop Ox Nche is making a name for himself as an all-round performer

– Former Stormer and Springbok Gio Aplon is still tearing up defenders for Grenoble in France

FREE: The annual edition of World Swimsuit is included with this month's SA Rugby magazine

– Available monthly to Foschini Group account holders for R26.99 (incl VAT) per issue
– Non-Foschini Group account holders (12 issues): R359 (incl VAT), Neighbouring states: R620; International: R820

– Foschini Group account holders: Phone 0860-117-529, email [email protected], or SMS ‘SARUGBY’ and your account number to 44001
– Non-Foschini Group account holders: Phone (021) 416-0141, fax 086-567-1350, or email: [email protected]

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Jon Cardinelli