Etzebeth injury has Bok brains trust twitchy
The SA side can ill afford to lose their enforcer before the crunch clash with Ireland
Eben Etzebeth’s recovery prognosis of seven to 10 days does not bedevil the Springboks’ plans for the match against Romania, but it will leave their brains trust a little twitchy for engagements further down the road.
Etzebeth said his shoulder will be fine after he took a knock and left the field in the 26th minute of Sunday’s 18-3 Rugby World Cup opening win against Scotland.
He has since been sent for a scan, but even before the results were out director of rugby Rassie Erasmus said he believed the injury should keep the most capped player in the squad out for up to 10 days.
The Boks’ enforcer was not earmarked to play against Romania on Sunday anyway, so he can focus on rest and recovery ahead of the crunch clash against Ireland on September 23 in Paris.
“At this stage, it looks like a seven to 10-day injury like Jean Kleyn was, and like Canan [Moodie] was,” said Erasmus.
“So there is some time to manage him, but the scans will give us a definite on it. We might find out it’s much more serious, but at this stage, it looks like a 10-day injury.”
Erasmus said they will have 100% clarity after the scan.
“Then we’ll have to make the right call because we can’t have players who are 70% or 80% [who don’t] turn to a 100% in the next seven to 10 days. We will have to think clearly.
“It’s always tough in a game like that — the opening game of the World Cup — but I do like the honesty when he said ‘Guys, I’ve got a sore shoulder’.
“You know that an 85% Eben won’t be able to contain a team like Scotland.”
The Boks can ill afford to have Etzebeth drop out of contention ahead of the Ireland game.
Before the tournament, they lost the towering presence of Lood de Jager, their talisman in the line-out.
SA could have been another player down after the Scotland clash, but a Jesse Kriel head-on-head tackle was deemed fair.
It left many Scottish fans with a bitter taste in the mouth.
“We are really comfortable, there hasn’t been a citing. I’m pretty sure there won’t be a citing,” said Erasmus.
“If it isn’t direct head contact ... and it wasn’t, it was tackled on the ball and then he moved up after tackling on the ball. I’ve seen a few stills where people just [show] after direct contact to the ball.
“If you took it a millisecond or a second or two back, you’ll see he clearly tackled on the ball. So we’re very happy with how it was refereed. I think Finn Russell’s call was much closer.
“Unfortunately, he got injured then, I think that deflected a little from the action that he did, but we were happy with the decision that was made.
“Obviously there’s some time to do, citings still, but I’ll be very surprised for the indirect contact — with first contact on the ball — that there will be anything from that,” said Erasmus.