Bok skipper believes that the team is not where they want to be yet
Springbok captain Eben Etzebeth says their third spot in the World Rugby rankings is “pretty good”, but says the Boks have “two more spots” to climb before they’ll be satisfied.
The Boks have jumped from seventh to third in the rugby world after winning all five of their Tests this year – three against France in June and two Rugby Championship victories over Argentina.
And although the world-class second-rower acknowledged that it is a huge improvement from last year – when the Boks won only four of their 12 internationals – Etzebeth says they want to get hold of the top spot.
“We’re still not where we want to be – we all know where the Springboks want to be. From seventh to third in five games is pretty good for us, but we’re looking to climb that ladder two more spots,” the Bok skipper said.
Although it’s still early days, the Springboks are also in a better position on the Rugby Championship log than last year, with them topping the table while New Zealand are in second place.
And after two impressive wins over Los Pumas, Etzebeth was well aware of the fact that the real test will come in the next two weeks when they travel to Australasia for their fixtures against the Wallabies and the All Blacks.
“I think it’s probably on points difference between us (40) and New Zealand (22). So after these two games we’ll know where we stand.”
The Stormers vice-captain made it clear that they are expecting a different Australian threat to what they faced from the Aussie teams in Super Rugby, but he was also confident about the boxes they’ve ticked until now in terms of preparation.
“There will be a difference, but luckily we faced them in Super Rugby, so the guys know what they do. We are well prepared. We’ll do a few touch-ups, but we know what to expect,” he said. “We’ve had better preparation this year, we had more time to prepare.
“Coach Allister also had more time to prepare and to get the group and management team together. We also had time to work on our culture, and that all adds up.
“That’s been the difference on the field this year. We’re actually more excited to see how we go up against the teams that are probably two of the best teams in the world. The guys can’t wait to get to Australasia.”
There are a number of things Bok coach Allister Coetzee has praised over the last couple of weeks, and the quality of leaders in the group has been one of the things most mentioned by Coetzee.
“I’ve enjoyed the last few weeks plus the French series, it’s probably been the best time of my life with the Springboks. I enjoy every moment and it’s just so easy with the guys around me – Elton Jantjies, Tendai (Mtawarira), Siya (Kolisi) and all the coaches laying out the plans for us and making it so much easier.”
And when asked about his most enjoyable moments since becoming the 59th Springbok captain, Etzebeth said: “I like expressing my emotions on the field a little bit more, like when we get into a huddle.
“I also enjoy running out in front knowing you’re leading for your country it’s something special. I never imagined it.”