South Africa’s Eben Etzebeth during the training session at Twickenham Stadium, London.

Springboks wary of Wallabies injury-depleted pack

The Wallabies have been struck by a spate of injuries ahead of their Rugby Championship clash against the Springboks.


South Africa’s Eben Etzebeth during the training session at Twickenham Stadium, London.

Springbok captain Eben Etzebeth says South Africa won’t be taking an injury-depleted Wallabies front row lightly at Ellis Park on Saturday.

The Wallabies have lost three of their regular props, with looseheads Scott Sio (adductor) and Tom Robertson (ankle) flying home midweek, and Allan Alaalatoa (foot) ruled out later.

Australia still has experienced 86-Test prop James Slipper and centurion Sekope Kepu lining up in their front row, but they could be relying on debutant Harry Johnson-Holmes, who only arrived in Johannesburg on Wednesday night, late in the game.

Etzebeth said he expected the Aussies to provide as tough a contest as ever despite their injuries.

“Beast and Trevor (Nyakane) and those guys will probably have a look at that,” he said.

“They’ll make their own plans between them and give us some feedback on that but definitely think they’ll be prepared for the scrum battle. I know Beast is always ready for a nice scrum battle. “I think, also for Australian guys whoever steps into the position, they’ll play for Australia and they’ll do good for Australia.

“Once you put on your international jersey, well that’s how it is for us South Africans, you’re a different guy, and you always give your best, so I’m sure those guys who are filling those gaps are great rugby players.”

Eben Etzebeth

South Africa coach Rassie Erasmus said earlier in the week he expected Israel Folau’s absence would be a blow to Australia’s aerial game and Etzebeth echoed that view.

“It’s not a state secret that Israel Folau is probably one of the best in the world, so they lose a little bit without him.

“There are guys filling in his spot, and I’m pretty sure they will do just as good as a job, but Folau is great in the air, that’s probably the aspect they will miss, but they will prepare in other ways for that.”

Rassie Erasmus

Etzebeth will step into the captaincy for the first time in two years when he runs out at Ellis Park and said it was a responsibility he took seriously.

“Words can’t describe, it’s a massive honour,” he said.

“There are some big names who have led South Africa before and just to be in the same role as them again is an unbelievable honour for me, and it’s just great running in front.

“Obviously when you’re captain, you always feel a little more responsibility, you lead the team, you make the decisions on the field. “There’s always a little bit more responsibility, but there are senior guys in the team who has my back, and it’s really good.”

Eben Etzebeth

African News Agency (ANA); Editing by Herman Gibbs