Springbok superstar Bongi Mbonambi Etzebeth

The Springboks celebrate. Image via Instagram @mr_mbonambi

Etzebeth or Mbonambi? Two clear Springbok captaincy alternatives

If the Springboks do consider alternative captaincy options, there will still be a tough call to make between two prime candidates.

Springbok superstar Bongi Mbonambi Etzebeth

The Springboks celebrate. Image via Instagram @mr_mbonambi

Siya Kolisi has led the Springboks to back-to-back World Cup titles in 2023, and having committed to continuing his international career, there would normally be no doubt over him continuing to lead the team.

However, since the 2023 World Cup concluded, Kolisi has headed abroad to join French club Racing 92, and it has raised the question of whether the Springboks will be able to be led by an overseas-based captain.

It now remains to be seen if an exception will be made, but what is already certain is that Kolisi will be unavailable for the opening Test of the year against Wales on 22 June as it falls outside the official Test window.

As the Springboks consider their backup captaincy candidates, it’s likely that coach Rassie Erasmus will not look beyond two names: Eben Etzebeth and Bongi Mbonambi.

Pros and cons for Springboks to consider when it comes to Etzebeth and Mbonambi

Bongi Mbonambi

The burly hooker is probably the front-runner considering he effectively served as the vice-captain during the World Cup, and the latest episodes of the Springboks’ Chasing the Sun documentary certainly have showcased what an incredible leader he is.

Erasmus has already admitted that he is one of his “favourites” on the Springbok team, and he is exactly the sort of player who will lead from the front.

There may be a slight question mark over whether a leadership role comes completely naturally to Mbonambi, while his communication with referees has occasionally left a lot to be desired.

Eben Etzebeth

Etzebeth is the most experienced member of the Springboks’ team, and he has already been named as the run-on captain in as many as 13 Tests previously.

The powerful lock has continued to grow as a leader, and boasts immense respect within the Springbok team and throughout the rugby world.

However, one question might revolve around whether the captaincy responsibilities might detract from his on-field performances, and also potentially dilute his role as the team’s enforcer.

“I don’t want to speculate too much on the Boks captaincy, we all know if Siya is match-fit he will always be in the team, and he might lead us [or] someone else might lead us,” the 119-Test lock told SABC Sport.

“We just want to win Test matches, we’re a core leadership group and we all work together, and the captain on the day will run out in front. But we will always work together, and whoever the responsibility lies on, we’ve got the backing of a couple of senior players.”

“If that responsibility comes to me, great; if it doesn’t, also great, because we know we want to go into this year and be successful in our Test matches, and that for us is the main thing,” he added.

“We’re not worrying about which individual gets what [role], as long as we can perform well as a team.”

Who would be your choice?

*Let us know by voicing your opinion in the comment section at the end of the article