Springboks

Rassie backs Etzebeth: It's only a rumour at this stage

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Rassie Erasmus (Gallo Images)
Rassie Erasmus (Gallo Images)

Cape Town - Springbok coach Rassie Erasmus has justified his decision to pick Eben Etzebeth in his 31-man Springbok squad despite the star lock having been implicated in an alleged assault case over the weekend. 

Etzebeth on Monday took to social media to protest his innocence after reports fingered him as being involved in an altercation outside a popular Langebaan watering hole in the early hours of Sunday morning. 

SA Rugby had also released a statement in which they confirmed that they would cooperate with authorities in the investigation into the incident, but said that Etzebeth would remain a part of the national plans until they were instructed otherwise. 

After announcing his squad, Erasmus dismissed the Etzebeth reports as just "a rumour" at this stage. 

"I was definitely worried about it when I heard about it, of course," he said.

"If there was any truth in it, it would have been a massive issue for us.

"After speaking to Eben and hearing his side of the story, there is obviously trust between a coach and a player.

"I must trust him to do some stuff on the field for me and win Test matches for us, and he must trust me to believe him when he tells me something.

"I'm pretty comfortable with what he's told me and obviously you can't just believe what someone else says on social media.

"I'm confident that that's not the truth what was said on social media and if anything like that happens and it is the truth, then somebody like that would not be part of our team and would not go to the World Cup.

"Until something like that gets proven, it's just a rumour in my opinion."

Etzebeth (27) has 78 Test caps to his name and is set to feature in his second Rugby World Cup having also represented the Boks at the 2015 showpiece in England. 

Springboks' 31-man Rugby World Cup squad:

Forwards (17)

Schalk Brits (Bulls), Lood de Jager (Bulls), Pieter-Steph du Toit (Stormers), Eben Etzebeth (Stormers), Steven Kitshoff (Stormers), Vincent Koch (Saracens, England), Siya Kolisi (captain, Stormers), Francois Louw (Bath, England), Frans Malherbe (Stormers), Malcolm Marx (Lions), Bongi Mbonambi (Stormers), Tendai Mtawarira (Sharks), Franco Mostert (Gloucester, England), Trevor Nyakane (Bulls), Kwagga Smith (Lions), RG Snyman (Bulls), Duane Vermeulen (Bulls)

Backs (14)

Lukhanyo Am (Sharks), Damian de Allende (Stormers), Faf de Klerk (Sale Sharks, England), Warrick Gelant (Bulls), Elton Jantjies (Lions), Herschel Jantjies (Stormers), Cheslin Kolbe (Toulouse, France), Jesse Kriel (Bulls), Makazole Mapimpi (Sharks), S'bu Nkosi (Sharks), Willie le Roux (Toyota Verblitz, Japan), Handre Pollard (Bulls), Cobus Reinach (Northampton Saints, England), Frans Steyn (Montpellier, France)

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