Etzebeth out, but Habana fit again

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Etzebeth came face to face with big England No 8 Billy Vunipola near the half-hour mark of the 37-21 defeat and hit his head hard on the turf as his opponent carried the ball up.

It didn’t look like Vunipola had made contact with the Bok enforcer’s face or head, but Etzebeth stayed down for quite a while, and eventually trudged off and didn’t come back.

The Stormers star was fiery enough in the opening salvoes to have been a major loss for Allister Coetzee’s team for the rest of the game, as he took the game to the sizable England pack.

The Bok coach could have initially thought of giving Etzebeth a break anyway for the Italian clash, but considering Saturday’s defeat and the fact that the South Africans have lost four out of 10 Tests in 2016, Coetzee may have called on the 2.04m second-rower to dominate the Azzurri for around 60 minutes to secure victory.

Coetzee said on Monday that he won’t be calling up a replacement, which indicates that Etzebeth should be ready for the final tour game against Wales in Cardiff next week.

For the moment, there is enough lock cover with Lood de Jager, Pieter-Steph du Toit and Franco Mostert, while Willem Alberts and Oupa Mohoje can also fill in if required.

But Coetzee should take a serious look at his loose trio, and reinstate Du Toit to the second row after he was found wanting on defence as a blindside flank against England.

SA Rugby announced that Cheetahs flank Uzair Cassiem joined the squad on Sunday in Italy as a replacement for the injured Roelof Smit, but he will probably have to wait for his opportunity behind the likes of Nizaam Carr and Jean-Luc du Preez, as well as Mohoje.

Record try-scorer Bryan Habana is also fully over the knee problem that kept out of the England Test, and he will bring much needed energy and experience at wing after both JP Pietersen and Ruan Combrinck battled at Twickenham.

ashfak.mohamed@inl.co.za

@ashfakmohamed

Independent Media

Original source: Etzebeth out, but Habana fit again

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