Eben Etzebeth says rugby needs more characters like Rassie Erasmus, who the Springbok lock hailed as one of the sport’s “next-level masterminds”.
The Boks’ 2019 World Cup triumph was largely attributed to Erasmus, yet SA’s director of rugby has divided opinion with his eccentricities and unconventional methods.
His leaked controversial video during the 2021 British & Irish Lions tour copped him a ban from World Rugby, but it hasn’t stopped him taking digs at the governing body on social media.
The 49-year-old also writes a column for the Daily Mail, where he has advocated for radical rule changes and put his name forward to replace Eddie Jones as England boss.
Speaking to Jim Hamilton in a wide-ranging video interview with RugbyPass, Etzebeth touched on his experience under Erasmus.
“He is a special human,” the 97-capped Bok said. “I can’t remember what [World Cup] game, but before the team came out for the warm-up he was kicking drop goals at the posts. He is just something else. He is just relaxed, he is just himself.
“I mean, I love that, I love people being themselves. It feels like in rugby everyone is always the same, everyone has the same answers and if you look at post-match interviews, everyone always has the same type of [answers]. Rassie is just someone new.”
Etzebeth added: “If you take that away [his character], just his rugby brain, how he thinks about the game, how clever he is, it’s just on another level. He is just a mastermind.
“Obviously, you have got Jacques Nienaber, Felix Jones, Deon Davids and Daan Human, all those guys around him, they just work hours and hours and Rassie is … I don’t know if you watch ‘Prison Break’, Michael Scofield, he reminds me a bit of Michael, he always has a plan, always has a good plan up his sleeve.
“He is just good at what he does and the way he gets people up for games, it’s incredible and how he gets the best out of people.
“Like the head coach putting 20 videos of his bulldog on Twitter or guys like Joe Marler from another team as an example, just doing something different, a guy like Ellis Genge who came to the post-match interview with beer, that’s just nice, we need more of that in rugby.
“Everyone just always wants to tick the boxes and just be the same and we need characters. Rassie is definitely a character.”