Rugby Championship

Etzebeth has no memory of Haka 'game-face' that had people buzzing: 'I was in the moment'

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Eben Etzebeth. (Photo by Patrick HAMILTON / AFP)
Eben Etzebeth. (Photo by Patrick HAMILTON / AFP)
  • Eben Etzebeth is now arguably the official face of Springbok defiance against the Haka after his ice-cold expression during last weekend's rendition.
  • The lock admits he would have to watch again to understand what social media users are going on about, but believes he was just "living himself in the moment".
  • Etzebeth says every Haka is a special moment and that he respects the meaning it holds to New Zealand players.  

Eben Etzebeth says he'll have to trawl the internet to watch this past weekend's Haka to understand what some social media users are talking about, but there can be little doubt he's now the official face of Springbok defiance when it comes to the All Blacks' famous custom.

The imposing lock was caught on camera sporting an expression that can best be described as eerily calm with a hint of a pout as his opponents laid down their symbolic marker.

Etzebeth proceeded to back up that seeming annoyance with a produce a superb performance in the narrow 17-19 loss in Townsville.

"I'll have to watch that again to see my face," he said with a laugh on Monday, ahead of Saturday's concluding clash on the Gold Coast.

"I was probably just living myself in the moment. It's really a special thing to experience, you only face it when you're playing against the All Blacks or one of the Pacific nations."

It's not the first time the 29-year-old second rower, who's now only 10 Tests away from a century of caps, has almost been disdainful as he also had people buzzing over his reaction in 2019's Rugby Championship encounter - a 16-all draw in Wellington.

However, Etzebeth suggests that might simply be down to him wishing the action could start there and then.

READ | Springboks 'could have made better decisions' says assistant coach as Kolbe returns

"I always wish we can just start the game directly after that," he said with another smile.

"But some of the guys want water first. It's going to be nice to experience it again this week. Hopefully my game-face won't look too bad this time round."

The Kiwis actually left their Kapa O Pango version of the Haka for the Boks and hadn't performed it previously this year, a sign widely regarded as one of massive respect.

And Etzebeth, who's mingled and played together with several New Zealanders since moving to French giants Toulon, is acutely aware of how important the custom is to the All Blacks.

"It's something that really has meaning to them and I believe that's different for every New Zealand player," he said.

"To be honest, for me it's just about experiencing it, it doesn't really matter which version they perform against us. We just enjoy facing it.

"For the Kiwi players it holds a deep meaning and we respect that. But we're standing in a special Green-and-Gold jersey, we just can't wait for the action to start."

The Springboks announce their team on Tuesday. 

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