After a disappointing 24-22 loss to Wales, Springbok captain Eben Etzebeth’s captaincy issue was raised by pundits in the SuperSport studio.
What particularly stood out was former Springbok coach Nick Mallett's question of whether it was the correct decision to make Etzebeth captain after Warren Whiteley’s injury earlier this year.
“I thought again there was a missed opportunity in the leadership situation. Warren Whiteley is acknowledged as being the best captain of a franchise team in South Africa and he was outstanding when he captained the Springboks. When he got injured, Siya Kolisi, who is another franchise captain, was playing well enough to take over. I know there was a feeling that Kolisi had to nail down his place in the team first, but the form that he was showing would warrant having a look at him as captain in the interim until Warren came back. But least the Bok captaincy would have been given to a man who captains his franchise,” Mallett said.
Mallett added that these comments were “by no means” a criticism of Etzebeth and continued by saying: “But if you look at their personalities, Etzebeth is known for his physicality and ability to get stuck into the faces of the opposition. But you need be withdrawn from the impact situation to make clear decisions as the captain on the field. He also doesn’t look like someone who enjoys picking someone up off the ground or congratulating and motivating the people around him. Whereas Siya seems to thrive on that. He seems to play better when given an opportunity to encourage the players around him. I think he would have done a great job for the Springboks.”
However, sport24 reports that Etzebeth dismissed the idea that he should not be leading South Africa. Upon finding out what was said in the SuperSport studio, he was quoted by Netwerk24 as saying: “They (rugby pundits) don’t always know what they’re talking about. I enjoy the captaincy a lot and I don’t easily let myself get distracted from the action. I always want to be intensely involved. I do what is expected of me and the captaincy is something that I embrace and cherish.”