Cape Town - After two rounds of Super Rugby, Stormers lock Eben Etzebeth has stolen more lineouts and taken more total lineouts than any other player in the competition.
The 24-year-old enforcer has formed a fearsome second row partnership with new recruit Pieter-Steph du Toit, and the pair have been a highly influential weapon for the Stormers already.
Etzebeth has won opposition lineout ball six times in the victories over the Bulls and Cheetahs, which is twice as much as the next best - a group including Du Toit.
He has taken 19 lineouts altogether, which is three more than anyone else, and he has also made 22 tackles to boot.
Etzebeth puts his early success in the lineouts this season down to the influence of Du Toit and new forwards coach Russell Winter who have implemented a new system, laughing off suggestions that he is the mastermind on his own.
“Our coach Russell Winter has worked hard with us on our contesting, but it is a team effort from all the forwards,” Etzebeth told the Stormers’ official website.
“Pieter-Steph takes control of the lineouts, and with him here and the new system we have it is working quite well - that is why I look like a new tactician.”
Etzebeth explained that an important part of their success so far has been choosing which balls to contest.
“We have our balls that we want to contest a bit more than others and we decide during the week where we want to target them and we take it from there, I am not going to give away too much,” he said.
Despite his early success, Etzebeth is determined to continue improving, starting on Saturday when the Stormers take on the Sharks at Newlands.
“I just want to improve in every game and every year so hopefully I can do that.
“We pride ourselves on our scrums and lineouts and mauls, we just want to improve this weekend again against the Sharks,” he added.
Saturday’s clash at Newlands is scheduled for 17:15.