Eben Etzebeth has rubbished suggestions that he’s perhaps too confrontational to be an effective international captain.
Former Springbok coach Nick Mallett opined after the weekend’s 22-24 loss to Wales that the national team’s stand-in skipper isn’t an “ideal leader” because he tends to be too close to the action.
Instead, he believes a captain should be an individual who can take a step back and calmly and objectively digest decisions on the field.
But Etzebeth took a dim view on the matter.
“Yeah, well, those gentlemen don’t always know what they’re talking about,” he said.
“I really enjoy the captaincy and I don’t really remove myself from proceedings because I want to keep on doing what I’m doing. For me, captaincy is a great responsibility but it shouldn’t change me as a player.”
The imposing 26-year-old lock is known for being in the thick of things and sometimes comes across as a bit of a hothead.
Yet his decision-making as a leader has gradually improved over the course of the season since he replaced the injured Warren Whiteley.
Despite various stakeholders and critics calling for coach Allister Coetzee’s head over the Boks’ mediocre performances in 2017, Etzebeth also insists that the players need to take responsibility too.
“It’s a massive one,” he said.
“We’re the guys that go on to the field. We’re the guys that live out the Springbok brand, not just the coaches. So we have a duty to improve the results.”