Etzebeth: Tour will determine our year
IN THE SPOTLIGHT: Springboks captain Eben Etzebeth knows that his side's results on their end-of-year tour to Europe will determine if 2017 has been a success or not.
The Boks only picked up two wins (both against Argentina) in this year's Rugby Championship, but they did show some encouraging signs, especially in their 24-25 loss to the All Blacks in Cape Town a few weeks ago.
Allister Coetzee's side will now head into a tough tour, which will see them face Ireland, France, Italy and Wales on consecutive weekends and Etzebeth is confident they can get four victories.
"This tour will determine our year if it is successful or not," said Etzebeth.
"We are definitely looking for four victories on this tour.
"We will take it week by week. Ireland will be our first Test and it is really going to be a big Test for us. They are a very good team and we are really looking forward to the challenge."
The last time Boks and Ireland met, it was in a three-Test series in South Africa in June 2016.
It was a closely fought series with Ireland picking up their first-ever victory on South African soil. However, the Boks eventually won the series 2-1, but only just.
Etzebeth believes they will head to the Aviva Stadium for Saturday's clash as a much stronger unit.
"I think when we played Ireland last year we were together for probably not more than three or four weeks. Now we have been together for two years, so we are definitely better prepared.
"The guys know each other better, the management knows each other better, so we definitely a more gelled unit this time around.
Etzebeth added: We played in June last year against them, so now we are going over there. The conditions [in Dublin] probably won't be that great, but it is something we will have to adapt to - we are not a team that wants to make any excuses."