Lood and Eben: ‘best of friends’

Date published: June 1 2016

Springbok assistant coach Johan van Graan has insisted that Eben Etzebeth and Lood de Jager are completely over their scuffle over the weekend. 

When asked about the jersey tugging between the Springbok second-rowers at Newlands on Saturday, Van Graan reacted with a smile. 

"They are the best of friends," said Van Graan.

"Lood and Eben are big friends. I think that's the great thing about rugby – for players and coaches, everything that happens between those four lines on a Saturday stays there. After it's happened, its wonderful to share a beer and laugh about it. 

"Those are things that happen in the heat of the battle. Rugby is a collision sport. There have already been a few jokes about it this week, but it's already way behind us.

The injury to Pieter-Steph du Toit means the two will mostly likely be the starting lock pairing when the Springboks take on Ireland on June 11.

"Pieter-Steph is unbelievably unlucky with injuries at the Springboks," added Van Graan.

"He played his first two tests at the end of 2013 and then had long injuries. He showed at the World Cup last year that he will become one of the best locks in the world. I think he was outstanding in Super Rugby (this year). So it’s a huge setback for him and for us. He was part of our plans and will still be part of our plans when he recovers. Luckily it is not a long term injury."

With the Stormers bruiser out of contention for at least a couple of weeks, Lions lock Franco Mostert has been promoted from the SA 'A' side into the Springbok squad.

"But I am also very happy for Franco Mostert coming in. He deserves his chance," commented Van Graan.

"His play in Super Rugby has been outstanding. I was also fortunate to have coached him at the Bulls early in his career. He is a guy who has worked hard at this game, and he is making his mark in his own unique way."