Sunday 15 September 2019

Eben Etzebeth included in South Africa World Cup squad and denies assaulting homeless man

Eben Etzebeth of South Africa
Eben Etzebeth of South Africa
Cian Tracey

Cian Tracey

Rassie Erasmus has named South Africa's 31-man World Cup, which will be captained by Siya Kolisi.

After an outstanding Rugby Championship campaign, the Springboks are looking like strong contenders in Japan, with a potential quarter-final against Ireland on the cards.

The Boks face a tough opening assignment against the All Blacks on September 21, but from there will be expected to breeze through Pool B, which also includes Italy, Namibia and Canada.

Erasmus has gone with a split of 14 backs and 17 forwards, including plenty of experienced campaigners such as Francois Louw, Tendai Mtawarira and Eben Etzebeth, who is currently facing allegations of assault on a homeless man. The towering lock has denied all such allegations.

The likes of Cheslin Kolbe, Willie Roux and Damian de Allende will add plenty of firepower to a back-line that is brimming with explosive potential.

"I am very happy with the squad we have been able to select," said Erasmus.

"We have been developing this squad since the start of last season and in the 31 we have a good balance of established experience and some exciting youth.

"We set out with the goal of growing the depth of the squad and I am confident that any of this 31 can step into a play-off match at the Rugby World Cup and deliver an outstanding performance.

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"We've been working towards this moment for the best part of two years and we've been lucky in achieving most of our goals this season.

"We've been able to give everyone in the squad some good game time as well as develop combinations with squad rotation and not lose momentum as we go to the World Cup.

"But the results and performances up to now will mean nothing once we are in Japan. It is a case of back to square one; putting in the work on the training field and in the planning sessions to build on what we have achieved."

The Springboks will play a final warm-up game against Japan on September 6 in Kumagaya.

Etzebeth denies assaulting and racially abusing a homeless man in Langebaan, a town 80 miles north of Cape Town.

"It is completely untrue and unfounded to claim that I physically or racially abused anyone in Langebaan as has been reported on social media," he said in a statement.

"Multiple witnesses can corroborate that. I am and will always strive to be a true ambassador to this beautiful rainbow nation and the sport that I love."

A statement from the South African Rugby Union read: "We have spoken to Eben and he categorically denies any physical or racial abuse on his part as has been alleged in social media.

"(SA Rugby) has no tolerance of acts of violence or racial abuse. We will co-operate with the authorities in any way necessary.

"Our Rugby World Cup squad will have no place for anyone who transgresses those principles."

South Africa World Cup squad:

Forwards (17)

Schalk Brits (Bulls), Lood de Jager (Bulls), Pieter-Steph du Toit (Stormers), Eben Etzebeth (Stormers), Steven Kitshoff (Stormers), Vincent Koch (Saracens), Siya Kolisi (captain, Stormers), Francois Louw (Bath), Frans Malherbe (Stormers), Malcolm Marx (Lions), Bongi Mbonambi (Stormers), Tendai Mtawarira (Sharks), Franco Mostert (Gloucester), Trevor Nyakane (Bulls), Kwagga Smith (Lions), RG Snyman (Bulls), Duane Vermeulen (Bulls).

Backs (14)

Lukhanyo Am (Sharks), Damian de Allende (Stormers), Faf de Klerk (Sale Sharks), Warrick Gelant (Bulls), Elton Jantjies (Lions), Herschel Jantjies (Stormers), Cheslin Kolbe (Toulouse,), Jesse Kriel (Bulls), Makazole Mapimpi (Sharks), S'bu Nkosi (Sharks), Willie le Roux (Toyota Verblitz), Handre Pollard (Bulls), Cobus Reinach (Northampton Saints), Frans Steyn (Montpellier).

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