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South Africa suffer injury blow as key man ruled out of next Rugby World Cup clash

South Africa beat Scotland in their opening game  (AFP via Getty Images)
South Africa beat Scotland in their opening game (AFP via Getty Images)

South Africa endured an injury blow with the news that key man Eben Etzebeth has been ruled out of their second Rugby World Cup pool game.

Towering lock Etzebeth picked up a shoulder injury during Sunday’s opening 18-3 win over Scotland and was substituted just 26 minutes into the game, with RG Snyman coming on in his place.

Director of rugby Rassie Erasmus confirmed on Monday that the 31-year-old will be sidelined for seven to 10 days, meaning he will miss Sunday’s clash against Romania. However, if that timeline is correct – and Erasmus did concede the possibility that he may be out for longer depending on further scans – then Etzebeth would be able to return for the Springboks’ crunch clash on Saturday 23 September.

And Erasmus praised the second row for his honesty in fronting up about the injury so early in a World Cup opener.

“It’s always tough in a game like that – opening game of the World Cup – but I do like the honesty when he said ‘Guys, I’ve got a sore shoulder’. You know, 85-per-cent-ready Eben won’t be able to contain a team like Scotland,” said Erasmus.

“At this stage it looks like a seven to 10-day injury, like Jean Kleyn was, and like Canan (Moodie) was.

“So there is some time to manage him, but the scans will give us a definite on it. We might find out it’s much more serious, but at this stage it looks like a 10-day injury.

“Today we’ll probably have 100 per cent clarity, I believe, on Eben and what’s the extent of that. Then we’ll have to make the right call, because we can’t have players who are 70 or 80 per cent (who don’t) turn to a hundred per cent in the next seven to 10 days. We will have to think clearly.”

Etzebeth won’t be fit to face Romania in the next group game (Getty Images)
Etzebeth won’t be fit to face Romania in the next group game (Getty Images)

There was also suggestion that Jesse Kriel could be cited for instigating an apparent head-to-head collision when tackling Jack Dempsey in a dangerous manner. But Erasmus was unconcerned by that prospect and confident his man did nothing wrong.

“We are really comfortable; there hasn’t been a citing (and) I’m pretty sure there won’t be a citing,” added Erasmus.

“If it isn’t direct head contact – and it wasn’t, it was tackled on the ball and then he moved up after tackling on the ball. I’ve seen a few stills where people just (show) after direct contact to the ball.

“If you took it a millisecond or a second or two back, you’ll see that he clearly tackled on the ball. So we’re very happy with how it was refereed.

“I think Finn Russell’s call was much closer. Unfortunately, he got injured then, I think that deflected a little bit from the action that he did, but we were happy with the decision that was made.

“Obviously there’s some time to do citings still but I’ll be very surprised for the indirect contact – with first contact on the ball – that there will be anything from that.”