Earlier this week it was tragically confirmed that Eben Etzebeth’s father, Harry, had passed away after a long battle with cancer. A decision on whether the Bok lock will continue to play against the All Blacks this weekend, or return home, will be left with him, with Springbok management affording him the time to he needs to make a decision.
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An SA Rugby official also told AFP that “our understanding is that Eben is very emotional at the moment as he was extremely close to his father”.
Should Etzebeth withdraw, RG Snyman will be the expected replacement, with Jean Kleyn perhaps coming onto the bench, while Lukhanyo Am would be the next likely captaincy candidate.
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Should Etzebeth decide to play for the Springboks it will be his first match since suffering a shoulder injury three months ago, with the team expected to wear black armbands in tribute to his father.
On the eve of the clash, All Blacks coach Ian Foster paid respects to Eben and the entire Etzebeth family.
“We haven’t really thought about the impact, but they (the Springboks) have got a lot of quality players,” he said. “We saw that last week and I’m sure they will adapt and adjust, but right now our thoughts go out to him as a person.
“It’s tragic news for him. I’m sure they will deal with it in the right way.”
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Etzebeth was named captain of the Springboks earlier in the week
All Blacks – 15 Beauden Barrett, 14 Will Jordan, 13 Rieko Ioane, 12 Jordie Barrett, 11 Mark Telea, 10 Richie Mo’unga, 9 Aaron Smith; 8 Ardie Savea, 7 Sam Cane (c), 6 Shannon Frizell, 5 Scott Barrett, 4 Brodie Retallick, 3 Tyrel Lomax, 2 Codie Taylor, 1 Ethan de Groot.
Subs: 16 Samisoni Taukei’aho, 17 Tamaiti Williams, 18 Nepo Laulala, 19 Tupou Vaa’i, 20 Dalton Papali’i, 21 Finlay Christie, 22 Braydon Ennor, 23 Caleb Clarke.
Springboks – 15 Willie le Roux, 14 Cheslin Kolbe, 13 Lukhanyo Am, 12 Damian de Allende, 11 Makazole Mapimpi, 10 Damian Willemse, 9 Faf de Klerk, 8 Jasper Wiese, 7 Franco Mostert, 6 Kwagga Smith, 5 Lood de Jager, 4 Eben Etzebeth (c), 3 Frans Malherbe, 2 Bongi Mbonambi, 1 Steven Kitshoff.
Subs: 16 Malcolm Marx, 17 Thomas du Toit, 18 Vincent Koch, 19 RG Snyman, 20 Pieter-Steph du Toit, 21 Duane Vermeulen, 22 Grant Williams, 23 Manie Libbok.
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