Eben Etzebeth addresses Springboks captaincy amid doubt over Siya Kolisi’s role

Jared Wright
Siya Kolisi and Eben Etzebeth at South Africa's parade following Rugby World Cup win.

Siya Kolisi and Eben Etzebeth at South Africa's parade following Rugby World Cup win.

Lock Eben Etzebeth has addressed potentially replacing Siya Kolisi as the Springboks captain in 2024.

Head coach Rassie Erasmus has expressed doubts over whether double World Cup-winning captain Kolisi will continue to lead the Springboks following the flanker’s move to French Top 14 club Racing 92.

A change in the Springboks’ captaincy?

Erasmus has explained that he prefers his captain to be based locally as he has easier access to his skipper particularly for training and alignment camps.

“This is a unique situation, and I think he (Kolisi) will play some Test matches; he certainly wants to, but we are not sure about the captaincy,” the Boks boss explained.

Kolisi has since responded to Erasmus’ remarks, noting that he knew this could be the case before he made the move to France.

“That’s normal. I knew that before making the decision to come here,” Kolisi told reporters.

“He (Erasmus) speaks and he says this is the situation, it is what it is, there’s nothing I can do about that.”

With Kolisi potentially relinquishing the role, several names have since been linked with the position.

If not Siya Kolisi, who will captain the Springboks under Rassie Erasmus?

Collabrative effort

As seen in the Chasing the Sun 2 documentary series, Bongi Mbonambi took on a greater leadership role during the 2023 Rugby World Cup, having led the Springboks for the first time before the tournament.

He is seen as one of the front-runners, along with the likes of Lukhanyo Am, Steven Kitshoff and Etzebeth.

However, Etzebeth has refused to entertain any speculation over the Springbok captaincy despite skippering the side on 13 occasions in the past.

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The 32-year-old was part of the leadership group during the World Cup and said that the players aren’t too concerned about who officially holds the title and that it would be a collaborative effort.

“I don’t want to speculate too much on the Boks captaincy, we all know if Siya is match-fit he will always be in the team, and he might lead us [or] someone else might lead us,” Etzebeth told the SABC.

“We just want to win Test matches, we’re a core leadership group and we all work together, and the captain on the day will run out in front. But we will always work together, and whoever the responsibility lies on, we’ve got the backing of a couple of senior players.

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“And if that responsibility comes to me, great; if it doesn’t, also great, because we know we want to go into this year and be successful in our Test matches, and that for us is the main thing.

“We’re not worrying which individual gets what [role], as long as we can perform well as a team.”

The double Rugby World Cup-winning lock enters the 2024 international season with 119 caps under his belt. He looks on track to become the most capped Springbok of all-time as he is just eight Tests behind ex-lock Victor Matfield.

Quiz: Can you name all 44 two-time Rugby World Cup winners?