Eben Etzebeth hits back at Courtney Lawes who must ‘keep his mouth shut’

Jared Wright
Springboks lock Eben Etzebeth and Northampton Saints forward Courtney Lawes.

Springboks lock Eben Etzebeth and Northampton Saints forward Courtney Lawes.

Springboks lock Eben Etzebeth has hit back at England and Northampton Saints forward Courtney Lawes.

Lawes was critical of the Bulls’ decision not to send a full-strength squad to the UK for the Investec Champions Cup quarter-final clash against Northampton.

Bulls boss Jake White opted to leave 11 Springboks in South Africa and highlighted travel issues and challenges that his side faced for the clash.

“Keep his mouth shut”

However, Lawes believed that the situation was blown out of proportion to put the pressure on the Saints and take it off the Bulls.

“My take was it’s a very South African thing to do that whole carnival around it, putting it out in the press about the eight different flights, this and that,” he told The Rugby Pod.

He added: “But I guarantee you that a lot of things there were at least exaggerated, to be honest, and it was a great way of them taking the pressure off themselves and essentially putting it all on us.

“Disrupting us, getting us thinking different things and not quite on the ball and that’s what I was pretty wary of, to be honest. I was pretty disappointed that they didn’t put their best team out.”

Courtney Lawes rejects Jake White claims after Bulls’ ‘exaggerated’ travel issues

Appearing on the latest episode of The Rugby Pod, Springboks lock Etzebeth slammed Lawes’ remarks and offered his response.

“The Bulls got a lot of criticism their way and unfairly I think. Obviously, I saw some players like Courtney Lawes mentioning something, and that’s a ‘South African way’, I don’t know why he mentioned the whole of South Africa,” Etzebeth said.

“He surely doesn’t know what’s going on in South Africa, so he must rather keep his mouth shut.”

The double World Cup winner didn’t have an issue with White’s decision not to take a full-strength squad to Northampton, particularly because the South African teams were not able to host the semi-finals.

“It’s Jake’s call. If you’re head coach, you must be able to select whoever you want to. In the Champions Cup and Challenge Cup, if you reach the top four and you don’t have a home semi-final, then the chances of you winning that comp is really low,” he added.

“They had to go away in the quarters and then probably go to Leinster and then play again in Europe against maybe Toulouse, so it’s always going to be difficult.”

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Sharks’ redemption

As for the Sharks, Etzebeth says they are viewing their Challenge Cup title chase as their redemption for a poor season having already fallen out of the running for the URC.

“We are out of the URC, we had a really disappointing season so far and the Challenge Cup is our big redemption, it can put a bit of a silver lining in season,” the 32-year-old said.

“Clermont is also not doing well in the Top 14, so they’ll also be going for the semi-final massively. It’s two desperate teams, two big teams. Clermont have a big pack of forwards and some unbelievable running backs. It’s going to be a tough game, but we obviously know this competition is our way of redeeming our season.

“If we don’t win it, it is a very terrible season for us; you can’t sugar coat it; it’s been horrible. But if we do go on and win it, then at least we are the first South African team to win silverware in Europe and also a spot in next year’s Champions Cup. So it’s it’s all or nothing.”

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