Springbok lock Eben Etzebeth is wary of the threat posed by the Irish forward pack ahead of South Africa’s end-of-year European tour match at Aviva Stadium on Saturday evening.
Ireland’s forwards put in a strong showing during their 2-1 series win in New Zealand in July and Etzebeth believes they will provide the Boks with a massive test.
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“They have a good pack of forwards, and we saw against New Zealand that they have a strong maul and scrum. In fact, they won quite a few scrum penalties in that series, and adding to that they are very clinical at the breakdowns. So, they are a well-rounded team,” said Etzebeth.
“They banked a series win against the All Blacks in New Zealand earlier in the year and they are currently ranked the number one team in the world, so this will be a great test for us.”
The Boks and Ireland have been drawn in the same pool for the 2023 Rugby World Cup in France, which will add a bit extra to this match-up as it will be a bit of a warm-up for the two sides ahead of that massive game.
“The fact that we are facing them in the Rugby World Cup next year will also spice up the clash, but for us as a team that will be a different challenge on its own,” admitted Etzebeth.
“We have a long tour ahead, and this is only the first match, and that is how we are approaching it as a team.”
Etzebeth was also part of the Bok team that was hammered 38-3 at Aviva Stadium the last time the two teams met back in 2017, but he pointed out they had both changed completely since then, so it would be a clean slate this time round.
“I was part of the team that played here in 2017, but both sides have other game plans and different teams now, so we are expecting a big challenge on Saturday,” said Etzebeth.