The confidences of Eben Etzebeth, all smiles in La Seyne before France – South Africa

Are you happy to be back home in the Var?

(laughs) I’m not really in Toulon, but it’s fun to be here. Inevitably, I had noticed for several months that we were coming to play in Marseille against France and that I would not be far from where I have lived for the past three years. But yes, I’m happy to be here with the boys. I think everyone is having a good time and it’s nice to be back for a few days.

Do your teammates ask you for advice on the area?

They ask me some questions, they ask me for things to see, so I try to guide them. In particular I give them places to go for breakfast or a good coffee. (laughs).

So where did you ship them?

I don’t really know La Seyne, because I lived in Carqueiranne… But I gave them addresses in Hyères. I am thinking in particular of the Savage Café, La Vague, Awa and Petit Sud, many places that I discovered while playing in Toulon.

Did you take advantage of your visit to see some friends or former teammates?

If we have time tomorrow [aujourd’hui, Ndlr.], I’d like to review some, although many are currently in selection. I think of Brian Alainu’uese or Duncan Paia’aua, whom I would have liked to see again … But I think I have time to have a coffee with Raph [Lakafia]. And I’ll also try to see if Franck [Azéma] is available, I’d like to see it (You smile).

Exactly, your RCT adventure ended in June. What do you keep from these three seasons at the port?

I enjoyed these three seasons in France. They will remain as good years of my life. And when I have the opportunity to return, as it does now, it will always be special. It’s nice to see some places again, to hear from the guys.

Still have no regrets for leaving?

No, because returning to my family and loved ones was a good decision. When I was here it was difficult to see them, but now I have more possibilities … It makes me feel good to see my parents. As you get older, you don’t want to waste time anymore, so it was important to me. Then returning home allowed me to get closer to the plans of the Springboks again. So I don’t regret coming home, I think it was the best decision to make.

How is the beginning of your adventure with the Durban Sharks?

So far I have only played one game, since the second one was canceled due to illness in the opposing team, then I entered the selection. But yes, everything is fine (laughs).

On Saturday you will face France. Are you in a hurry?

Yes, I’m super excited. It will be nice to meet some guys. I think of Carlo [Ollivon] or to Rom ‘ [Taofifenua]. They are good friends and I already talked a little with Romain at the beginning of the week. We talked about the match and got some news. Well, of course, on the pitch it will be a great test match, but it will be nice to see them again.

France are one of the few teams you haven’t played since your world title. What do you think of the Blues, who remain at eleven consecutive victories?

When you win eleven games in a row, it is proof that you have something more. Today France are one of the best teams in the world, so it will be a real challenge for us.

Could the outcome of the match have an impact on people’s minds, one year before the World Cup?

I don’t think it will impact the world. It’s an important test match to see where the two teams are, but if we meet the French team next year it will be very different. Above all we will try to measure ourselves, to find out what we can still improve.

With 107 appearances, you will be the most experienced player on the pitch. What does it represent for you?

You know, it’s just a number, because there are a lot of guys who have a lot of choices next to me … So it doesn’t mean much. The only thing that matters is to take the field and be level. If you have 200 selections but aren’t running, it’s useless.

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