Eben Etzebeth Downplays Springbok Captaincy Speculation

Springboks captaincy in flux as Eben Etzebeth emerges as leading candidate to replace Siya Kolisi. Team unity and success remain the top priorities, with Etzebeth downplaying the speculation.

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Emmanuel Abara Benson
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Eben Etzebeth Downplays Springbok Captaincy Speculation

Eben Etzebeth Downplays Springbok Captaincy Speculation

Key Takeaways

  • Eben Etzebeth has emerged as the leading candidate for Springboks captaincy
  • Siya Kolisi is unavailable for the opening Test, sparking captaincy speculation
  • Bongi Mbonambi, known for his abrasive style, is also considered for captaincy
  • Erasmus prefers the captain to be locally based for easier access

With the South African national rugby team, the Springboks, preparing for their upcoming Test matches, speculation has been mounting over who will take over the captaincy role from Siya Kolisi. Eben Etzebeth, a two-time world champion and Springbok centurion, has emerged as one of the leading candidates for the position.

Etzebeth, who previously served as captain in 2017 and stood in for an injured Kolisi in 2019 and 2023, has downplayed the speculation surrounding the captaincy. While he acknowledged that it would be "great" if he were given the role, Etzebeth emphasized that the team's unity and success are the main priorities.

"I don't want to speculate too much on the captaincy," Etzebeth said. "Siya will always be in the team if he is match-fit, and he might lead the team or someone else might. The core leadership group works together, and the captain on the day will run out in front, but we will always work together. Whoever the responsibility lies on, they have the backing of a couple of senior players."

Kolisi, who recently moved to French club Racing 92, is unavailable for the opening Test of the year against Wales at Twickenham on June 22, as it falls outside the official Test window. This has led to speculation about who will lead the Springboks in his absence, with Etzebeth, Lukhanyo Am, and Bongi Mbonambi among the leading local candidates.

Mbonambi, known for his abrasive, captaincy, spark, captain, vs playing style that embodies the spirit of the world champion Springboks, has also been mentioned as a potential captain. However, head coach Rassie Erasmus has expressed doubts over Kolisi's continued captaincy due to his move to France, preferring his captain to be based locally for easier access.

Etzebeth stressed that regardless of who is officially named captain, the team's focus remains on winning Test matches and being successful in the upcoming Rugby Championship and World Cup in France. "The main thing for us is to be successful in our Test matches," he said. "If the captaincy responsibility comes to me, it would be great, but if it doesn't, it is also great."

When the Springboks prepare for their upcoming challenges, Etzebeth's calm demeanor and ability to lead by example have earned him respect from his teammates and coaches. While the captaincy speculation continues, the team remains united in their pursuit of success on the international stage.