Eben Etzebeth is up from the Cape and excited to be making his Sharks debut against Glasgow Warriors at Kings Park on Saturday, with coach Sean Everitt expecting some superhero stuff from the Springbok legend as the home side look to lay down the law up front from the start against their Scottish opposition.
Etzebeth is joining his fellow former Stormers legends Siya Kolisi and Bongi Mbonambi, both of whom will come off the bench and give Glasgow no respite from the physical onslaught.
“Eben is the best lock in the world and we are starting with him because we want to improve our lineout and our ball-carrying ability,” Everitt said on Friday. “A good start is going to be crucial for us.
“He is very excited to be part of the Sharks, he’s settled in well and made Durban his home. He’s in a good place and looks at home. Eben will bring a wealth of experience and leadership, and the younger guys can really learn from him.
“Glasgow have an extremely good lineout, they have some tall timber, and we learnt that the hard way last season. They like to speed the game up and they blew the Bulls away with that pace last weekend.
“They’ll be aggressive at the breakdown too and they like to love the ball around, but a 4G pitch is a lot quicker than grass and I’m sure playing at Kings Park will be a challenge for them,” Everitt said.
Back in town
With the Sharks now back in town after they began their United Rugby Championship campaign on tour, Etzebeth is one of six current Springboks that will unleashed in Durban on Saturday.
Jaden Hendrikse is back to drive things from scrumhalf, and prop Ox Nche and wing Makazole Mapimpi are also on the bench, so the Sharks will be targeting high-intensity play for 80 minutes, if not high-speed.
“It makes for a very strong match-day 23,” Everitt said. “We are blessed with our front row resources and we have Ox, Bongi and Carlu Sadie to call on off the bench, which will certainly help our cause.
“It’s also better to get Vincent Tshituka back into the mix at flank sooner rather than later after injury. He was one of the top flanks in the URC last season and having him and Eben will certainly improve our lineout options.”
Sharks – Aphelele Fassi, Werner Kok, Marnus Potgieter, Ben Tapuai, Anthony Volmink, Boeta Chamberlain, Jaden Hendrikse, Phepsi Buthelezi, Vincent Tshituka, Dylan Richardson, Hyron Andrews, Eben Etzebeth, Thomas du Toit (c), Kerron van Vuuren, Ntuthuko Mchunu. Bench: Bongi Mbonambi, Ox Nche, Carlu Sadie, Reniel Hugo, Siya Kolisi, Sikhumbuzo Notshe, Cameron Wright, Makazole Mapimpi.