Eben Etzebeth sheds light on "arrogant" Ireland at Rugby World Cup

Eben Etzebeth sheds light on "arrogant" Ireland at Rugby World Cup

Springbok Eben Etzebeth revealed what several Irish players said to him during the pool stages of the 2023 Rugby World Cup.

The World Champions were drawn in the ˜Pool of Death™ last year, having to face a rampant Ireland and a dangerous Scotland before a possible quarterfinal.

With lowly Tonga scheduled for their final pool match and having already beaten Scotland and Romania, the clash against Ireland was not a must-win affair for the Boks. 

That™s not to say they didn™t give their all.

It was a titanic battle at the Stade de France, with the predominantly Irish crowd creating a sizzling atmosphere. The Northern Hemisphere giants would win 13-8 and were clearly jubilant after having taken the scalp of the defending champions.

Speaking to Jim Hamilton on the latest episode of The Rugby Pod, Etzebeth revealed that the post-match attitude of the Irish players surprised him.  

"After the game, you shake the guys' hands and probably 12 out of the 23 told me, 'see you guys in the final'," said Etzebeth.

"My immediate thought was because of the way the logs worked, we were going to play France and they were going to play New Zealand.

"My immediate thought was, 'Are these guys seriously not even thinking about the All Blacks in a World Cup quarterfinal, playing against them?'.

"That remark that they made - 'see you guys in the final'. I just thought these guys were making a big mistake to look past probably the most dominant team in the last 20 to 30 years of Test rugby. Surely, they can't.

"We would never say that because we knew we've got the host nation and we were going to have to pitch up to beat France in their backyard.

"It just felt like they were just so confident saying things like that when you know you got the mighty All Blacks coming up in a World Cup quarterfinal.

"Obviously, it is good to be confident, but you can never be arrogant in this game. You can have the best season and you can have one slip-up or one missed tackle and a guy puts you on your a*se. That's the beauty of this game, you are never on top forever."

Ireland are set for a highly anticipated two-match tour of South Africa in July, where Bok coach Rassie Erasmus aims to set the record straight.

"We know exactly which players we think can last another year, and we've given them specific tasks to help the youngsters before they leave here and maybe reach their 100th Test match or milestone," explained Erasmus at the first press conference of the year.

"They are still good enough and we're certainly not going to [experiment] against Ireland, who are number two in the world and we haven't beaten since 2016.

"The last score we got against them or the first score when I started out as coach was the 39-3, something like that, so we just want to rectify that."

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