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Boks captain ready

Wednesday, November 08, 2017

DUBLIN - South Africa captain Eben Etzebeth returned to full training on Monday after an ankle injury and would be fit to face Ireland in the test in Dublin on Saturday, coach Allister Coetzee said.

"He took part in our training on Saturday but obviously with limited participation but he is now back in full training.

"We have no concerns whatsoever about his inclusion and about his leading the team," the Springbok coach told a news conference on Monday.

Etzebeth hurt his ankle in training and spent almost a fortnight on the sidelines.

Uzair Casseim and Coenie Oosthuizen were also passed fit after missing South Africa's last outing in the Rugby Championship in October, a narrow 25-24 defeat to New Zealand.

"From a wellness point of view we are in a very good shape," he added.

Coetzee also admitted he had a decision to make at fly half between the regular first-choice Elton Jantjies and Handre Pollard, now fully fit after a litany of injuries.

Jantjies has been playing with Japanese club Shining Arcs for the last three weeks, but Pollard has been training with Coetzee at the Springbok prepartory camp and impressing the coach.

Saturday's match in the Irish capital is the first of four on tour in Europe for the Boks, who also face France on Nov. 18, Italy on Nov. 25 and Wales on Dec. 2.

Coetzee said the tour was an important part of preparations for the next World Cup in 2019.

"Our mind-set is that it's not the end of year tour, this tour is about making sure we improve as a group and keep on growing as a team," he said.

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