Eben Etzebeth to start for South Africa in their Rugby Championship opener against Argentina

Eben Etzebeth last played for South Africa in December last year
Eben Etzebeth last played for South Africa in December last year

South Africa head coach Rassie Erasmus is set to include Stormers lock Eben Etzebeth in the line-up for the upcoming Rugby Championship opening clash against Argentina to be played in Durban on Saturday.

This will be the 26-year-old's first competitive game in the last 10 months after he was declared fit following a shoulder and a back injury.

Erasmus admitted that there is still some concern surrounding Etzebeth fitness but insisted on the importance of him getting some match experience as an important season awaits the Boks.

"His match fitness is a concern and it is for that reason that we won't see him playing much more than 60 minutes this week," Erasmus said.

"We just received the clearance from the specialist. He has been training full on with us ever since the end of the Stormers Super Rugby campaign, but we have been waiting on this.

"I would prefer to start a player who is in this situation than play him from the bench. If we start someone else and then there is an injury in the first minute, we might be in trouble."

Etzebeth has made 67 international appearances for Springboks since his debut in 2012 and his presence along with Warren Whiteley and Malcolm Marx will add more depth to the squad from the one that completed a 2-1 series win over England at home.

"We are blessed in the forwards, it's been a long while since we had so many front-rowers and good hookers available. There are also a lot of second-rowers and we are mixing and matching the loose-forwards at this stage," Erasmus said.

"There is tremendous talent in the backs as well, but not a lot of experience. It doesn't mean we will be successful immediately, but it's a good sign."

Following the game in Durban, the two teams will meet once again in Mendoza on 25th August for the second round of the tournament.


South Africa Fixtures