'I think Bakkies Botha prepared the way for him'
IN THE SPOTLIGHT: South African World Cup winner Eben Etzebeth said he was looking forward to his “European adventure” and wanted to be a “part of history” when he faced the media for the first time on Friday since landing in France to begin a two-year contract with Top 14 club Toulon.
The 27-year-old lock forward, who was a cornerstone of the Springboks’ triumph in Japan, said he had three goals for his time on the south coast.
“After winning the World Cup I have three objectives – qualification for the European Champions Cup, and winning the Top 14 and the European Challenge Cup,” said Etzebeth.
“I cannot wait to start my European adventure. Toulon has a rich history with a lot of success and with some great players who have passed through here. I want to be a part of that history.”
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— RCT – RC Toulon (@RCTofficiel) November 28, 2019
Etzebeth, who was accused of a racist attack in August in Langebaan, in the Western Cape, follows in the footsteps of several other legendary Springboks who helped persuade him to head to Toulon.
“Bakkies Botha, Duane Vermeulen and Bryan Habana told me a lot about Toulon,” he said.
“They told me how beautiful the city was and the importance of the club for the fans.”
The former Stormers’ lock admitted that he had almost come to Toulon four years ago.
“I was too young at the time,” he said. “I still wanted to play for the Springboks. We were coming out of the 2015 World Cup and I wanted to prepare well for 2019 before going abroad.”
Toulon owner Mourad Boudjellal, who sat beside Etzebeth at the press conference, said the Bok had already asked for the line-out calls.
“It was a dream to bring Eben here,” he said. “It is a name that makes the people of Toulon dream. Eben is a player who is made to play in Toulon. I think Bakkies Botha prepared the way for him.
“It’s up to him to make the people of Toulon dream now.”
Toulon are currently fifth in the Top 14, 15 points behind leaders Lyon.
Etzebeth passed his medical on Friday and begins training on Monday.
He will be in line to make his debut in the European Challenge Cup against London Irish next week.
— RCT – RC Toulon (@RCTofficiel) November 29, 2019