Eben Etzebeth on track to face Ireland in World Cup showdown

The Springboks have been boosted by the news that their star lock Eben Etzebeth is making good progress with his recovery from a shoulder injury. Etzebeth, who has 95 caps for South Africa, left the field midway through the first half against Scotland last weekend and was initially given a seven- to 10-day recovery plan. It was then upgraded to 10 to 14 days, after a review of his scans, which put him in serious doubt for the crucial Pool B clash against Ireland next weekend.

However, on Saturday ahead of their clash against Romania on Sunday, the Bok camp revealed that Etzebeth is now just four to five days away from completing his recovery plan. The lock has been involved in training the last couple of days and on Saturday he was involved in a solid gym session. This means that he could be available for selection for the Ireland game, which will likely decide the top spot in the pool and a favourable quarterfinal draw.

Eben Etzebeth on track to face Ireland in World Cup showdown
Eben Etzebeth on track to face Ireland in World Cup showdown

Etzebeth’s importance for the Boks

Etzebeth is one of the most experienced and influential players in the Springbok squad, and his presence would be a huge boost for their chances of beating Ireland. He is a powerful ball-carrier, a dominant tackler, a reliable lineout jumper and a leader on the field. He has also formed a formidable second-row partnership with Lood de Jager, who has also been in fine form at the World Cup.

Etzebeth’s injury was one of several setbacks for the Boks in their opening game against Scotland, which they won 34-16 despite a shaky first half. They also lost hooker Malcolm Marx to a knee injury, which ruled him out of the tournament, and flyhalf Handre Pollard to a concussion, which kept him out of the Romania game. However, Pollard has passed his return-to-play protocols and is expected to be fit for the Ireland game as well.

Ireland pose a major threat to the Boks

The Springboks will face their toughest test of the World Cup when they take on Ireland next Saturday at the Stade de France in Paris. Ireland are ranked second in the world and have beaten the Boks in four of their last five meetings, including a historic 38-3 win in Dublin in 2017. They have also impressed at the World Cup so far, thrashing Japan 47-5 and Canada 63-0 in their first two games.

Ireland have a well-balanced team that can challenge the Boks in all aspects of the game. They have a strong set-piece, a physical pack, a creative backline and a reliable goal-kicker in Johnny Sexton. They also have a master tactician in coach Joe Schmidt, who will have studied the Boks’ strengths and weaknesses closely. The Boks will have to be at their best to overcome the Irish challenge and secure their place in the knockout stages.

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