Bakkies calls for Etzebeth to be managed well
Former Springbok lock Bakkies Botha says young lock Eben Etzebeth's career should be carefully managed in order to get the best out of him.
Etzebeth, 21, started 13 of the Stormers' 17 games last year and 11 of the 12 Tests the Boks played. He also represented Western Province at the tail-end of last year's Currie Cup competition, which they won after beating the Sharks 25-18 in the final in Durban.
"I think they have to manage a guy like Eben really well," Botha said in an interview with Rapport after playing a club game in France for Toulon. They beat Grenoble 39-3 on Saturday.
"The South African season has become very long with the Super-series and Test rugby overlapping.
"That's the biggest secret to get the best out if him. But he was phenomenal in 2012. I'm really pleased for him that he's playing such good rugby," said Botha, who played 76 Tests for the Boks between 2002 and 2011.
Etzebeth's 27 matches in 2012 is still below the maximum allowed number of 32 - as dictated by an agreement between the South African Rugby Players Association (SARPA) and the provincial unions.
However, SARPA CEO Piet Heymans says that rule needs to be overlooked as players are playing way too much rugby.
"That figure was stipulated years ago and clearly needs to be reviewed. If you take into consideration the intensity of modern day rugby and the limited amount of rest periods allowed for top players, then clearly 32 is too much," Heymans said.
The Stormers have a tough start to this year's Super Rugby competition: away derbies against traditionally fiercest domestic rival powers the Bulls and Sharks, and then an opening home outing against defending champions the Chiefs.
And Stormers coach Allister Coetzee has indicated that he'll need to make sure his best players are battle-hardened when the season commences, which means Etzebeth will have to play in warm-up games against the Cheetahs (Bloemfontein, February 2) and Boland Cavaliers (Wellington, February 9).