Cape Town – Springbok lock Eben Etzebeth insists he’s not a dirty player and just plays the game as hard as he possibly can.
The Western Province lock has been involved in a few incidents in the last year, with some pundits and fans even comparing him to hot-headed former Bok lock Bakkies Botha, who had his fair share of misdemeanours in his career.
Last month, the 21-year-old Etzebeth was caught in a pushing and shoving incident with Kings lock David Bulbring during a Super Rugby match in Port Elizabeth – an incident which raised a few eyebrows.
He also received a two-week ban last year for head-butting Australia’s Nathan Sharpe, and was also drawn into a scuffle with Scotland’s Jim Hamilton during a Test match in June this year.
In an interview with the Beeld website, Etzebeth admitted he is a target on the field, with opponents having the perception that he loses his cool easily.
But the burly lock says his aim is to always stay calm on the field.
“I know how things are and that I’m a hard player. I concentrate really hard to stay calm and not get involved with all sorts of nonsense.
“My goal is just to focus on the game and not get pulled into of-the-ball happenings,” said Etzebeth.
Etzebeth will pair up with lock partner, JuandrÃ© Kruger, on Saturday when the Boks start their Rugby Championship campaign against Argentina at FNB Stadium.
Kick-off is at 17:00.
15. Willie le Roux, 14 Bjorn Basson, 13 JJ Engelbrecht, 12 Jean de Villiers (captain), 11 Bryan Habana, 10 MornÃ© Steyn, 9 Ruan Pienaar, 8 Duane Vermeulen, 7 Willem Alberts, 6 Francois Louw, 5 JuandrÃ© Kruger, 4 Eben Etzebeth, 3 Jannie du Plessis, 2 Adriaan Strauss, 1 Tendai Mtawarira
15. Juan Martin Hernandez, 14. Gonzalo Camacho, 13. Marcelo Bosch, 12. Felipe Contepomi (captain), 11. Juan Imhoff, 10. Nicolas Sanchez, 9. Martin Landajo, 8. Leonardo Senatore, 7. Juan Manuel Leguizamon, 6. Pablo Matera, 5. Patricio Albacete, 4. Manuel Carizza, 3. Matias Diaz, 2. Eusebio Guinazu, 1. Juan Figallo
Substitutes: 16. Agustin Creevy, 17. Nahuel Lobo, 18. Juan Pablo Orlandi, 19. Mariano Galarza, 20. Julio Farias Cabello, 21. Tomas Cubelli, 22. Santiago Fernandez, 23. Horacio Agulla