Eben welcomes competition

Cape Town - Springbok and Western Province lock Eben Etzebeth says he's fit to play again after being sidelined since November last year.

Etzebeth suffered a serious ankle injury during the Springboks' 2013 end-of-year tour to Europe, which saw him miss most of the Stormers' Super Rugby campaign and the June Tests against Wales and Scotland. The 22-year-old was set to make his return during the latter stages of Super Rugby, but a toe injury forced him to miss the competition.

Etzebeth confirmed that he's ready to play the next possible fixture. Western Province coach Allister Coetzee said he'd like to see Etzebeth play for WP in their Currie Cup opener against the EP Kings next Friday.

However, it's unlikely that Coetzee will get his wish granted. The Springboks are holding a training camp next week, and Etzebeth is expected to be drafted straight into the Bok squad which will be announced on Saturday night.

"It's been tough to be out of the game for so long," Etzebeth told the MyPlayers website. "A lot of people think when you're injured, you sit around and do nothing, but I've been working hard during my rehab to ensure I'll be ready for my comeback. I'm still young and my body's fresh, so I'm excited to play again. The goal for my first game back is to get through it without any further injury."

The Springboks kick-off their Rugby Championship campaign against Argentina in Pretoria on August 16.

Etzebeth hopes he can work his way back into the national squad, which he believes will be an exciting environment.

"The Springboks have great depth at lock at the moment," said Etzebeth. "It's great to see guys like Bakkies Botha and Victor Matfield playing again. I played with Bakkies in Europe last year, and I managed to learn a lot as he passed on his knowledge. I haven't played against or alongside Victor, so I'm excited to learn from that experience.

"There's also great competition at lock with players like Lood de Jager and Stephan Lewies making their Test debuts in June. Pieter-Steph du Toit is also coming back from injury. That kind of exciting competition will be great for the Springboks, and will bring the best out of all of us."

For more exclusive player content, check out MyPlayers.co.za
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