Etzebeth set to start after long layoff

Eben Etzebeth has been sidelined for eight months with a shoulder injury which saw him miss Super Rugby for the Stormers this year.

Springbok player Eben Etzebeth. Picture: @EbenEtzebeth/Twitter

CAPE TOWN - Springbok coach Rassie Erasmus suggested Eben Etzebeth would start against Argentina in the Rugby Championship opener on Saturday in Durban.

Etzebeth has been sidelined for eight months with a shoulder injury which saw him miss Super Rugby for the Stormers this year.

The two-metre-tall second rower hasn’t played a competitive match since the Test against Wales in Cardiff in December. The Stormer also captained the Boks for most of their Tests (11 from 13) last year.

Despite training with the Boks for some time, the aggressive lock needed medical clearance before he could play competitively.

“He’s got clearance from the specialist, he has been functional (training) for a while. He has been with us for three or four weeks now,” Erasmus said.

After confirming medical clearance, Erasmus said Etzebeth would have minutes on the pitch in Durban but suggested he would not be overextended.

“He’s been training full on, obviously fit and powerful. Obviously, match fitness will be a bit of a problem but I think the way we will select the team, and he will be in the mix this weekend, is to make sure we have cover for him. To get 60 minutes out of him, although he is very fit, contact-wise will be tough.”