Etzebeth will make the move from Toulon to the Sharks at the end of the current European season.In an interview with French publication Midi Olympique, however, iconic Bok lock Bakkies Botha recently suggested it was “disappointing” that Toulon never got to see the best of Etzebeth, even stating that the current Bok superstar “was not made for France”.
Etzebeth’s move comes not long after Toulon president Bernard Lemaître described Etzebeth as a “handicap” to the club because he is expensive and often unavailable.
Etzebeth subsequently took to social media to remind Botha of his “honour code”, which presumably relates to the Springboks’ brotherhood that suggests former teammates should not make such provocative statement in public before contacting the individual in question.
“@BakkiesBotha – Noted,” Etzebeth tweeted.
“Next time you want to ENFORCE an opinion, you’ve got my number. #exspringbokteammates #onthoujouerekode [remember your honour code].”
The comments understandably caught the attention of many rugby followers online, and Etzebeth has now further touched on the matter in an interview with Var-matin.
“There are a lot of caring supports and others who say bad things about you. So, I don’t think we need other players to start doing it (criticise),” he said while further stating that the comments were “not necessary”.
Etzebeth added that there was an “interesting” talk held with Botha but he didn’t reveal what was said.
Below you can read some of the comments made by Bakkies Botha
“Eben Etzebeth? Incredible fighter, best second row in the world,” Bakkies Botha told Midi Olympique. “But I regret that he only shows his best face with the Springboks. In Toulon, he is still a little injured, concussed and in the end, never plays.
“Obviously, he was not made for France and he will turn his back on the problems the club went through to return to South Africa.
“It’s disappointing. I love Eben, I repeat. But you can’t say when you arrive in Toulon: ‘I want to be champion of France’ and leave some time later without having marked the club in one way or another.
“His first season was not bad but it is not enough. When you recruit a world-class player, it’s for him to make a difference.”
Etzebeth may have grown disillusioned at Toulon
In a wide-ranging interview with newspaper Var-matin, Lemaître explained the issues the club faces in terms of player recruitment ahead of the upcoming 2022/2023 season, and quite bizarrely took a swipe at Etzebeth and Argentinian Facundo Isa.
Etzebeth joined the French club in a high-profile, big-money move in 2019, and Lemaître suggested they weren’t getting bang for their buck.