Tank and Zelim of the All Out Rugby team nominate their candidates for Best Springbok after South Africa’s rollercoaster ride in the Rugby Championship ended with a gut-wrenching loss at Newlands …
Tank Lanning – Eben Etzebeth
Despite how poorly the bench was used by coach Allister Coetzee in this year’s Rugby Champs, I thought both Jean-Luc du Preez and Steven Kitshoff were monumental off the wood. The latter, now palpably better than regular starter Beast Mtawarira, a true contender for my Bok player of the tournament. His goose bump inducing send off at Newlands was more than deserved.
But I think it fairer that a player in the run on XV take this gong, and as such, found myself deciding between three contenders: Siya Kolisi, Malcolm Marx and Eben Etzebeth, all three not only stand out players for the Boks, but game changers.
On 10, Marx the ball limpet tops the comp in turnovers won, but misses out due to a high handling error and missed tackle rate, to go with an iffy lineout feed at times. On a monster 17, Kolisi tops the comp in dominant tackles, this out of the 49 he made. Sans a clearly defined role in a changing loose trio – not his fault – the WP flank could perhaps carry more for the Boks.
Which leaves the skipper – who took heat for the 57 points the Boks took an Albany, but now, rightfully, must also take the kudos for the turnaround at Newlands. He certainly seems to “Have the shed” as they say in Kiwi parlance, and given that he is standing in for Warren Whiteley, that is impressive.
He does his primary job superbly (topping the stats in both lineouts won and lineouts stolen), but was also hugely impressive round the field – 59 carries (3 more than Marx), 7 offloads, 10 tackle breaks, 48 tackles – 5 dominant, while only giving away 2 penalties.
In Saturday’s blunt force trauma approach against the All Blacks, Etzebeth was the blunt force!
CLICK HERE to see who Zelim Nel rated as his top Bok of RC2017 … Intriguingly, it’s a guy who Nel reckons might have seen the Boks win the Rugby Champs had he started each game!