Etzebeth enjoying new role
Springboks lock Eben Etzebeth knows he has a big responsibility as the team's enforcer during the upcoming end-of-year Tests.
The 21-year-old has inherited the Bok number four jersey from Bakkies Botha and he knows he has big boots to fill - a task which he relishes.
"If you've got that number on your back you have to be an enforcer...Bakkies did it and now it's my turn," he said.
"It's the number four's responsibility and role to hit rucks hard and make big tackles ... it's part of my job. I need to let the opposition know I'm on the field."
His enthusiasm for fulfilling his role as the hardman in the team got the better of him when the Boks played the Wallabies in Perth earlier this year.
Etzebeth was banned for two weeks for head-butting Australian counterpart Nathan Sharpe, something which resulted in him receiving a tongue-lashing from Bok coach Heyneke Meyer.
"Heyneke came down hard on me, but it was good that he did that...it's not going to help me if I get a reputation for being that kind of player, so I've learned my lesson," he said.
Unlike many other players, Etzebeth prefers not to talk about the players he comes up against on the field.
"I just go out and play the situation ... you don't need to know who's opposite you, there's so much analysis anyway nowadays," he added.
"Every game is different, the situations and circumstances change so it makes no difference whether you study a guy or not. Just play what's in front of you."
Etzebeth's fine form was rewarded when he won his country's Young Player of the Year award recently. He admits that he is still coming to terms with his meteoric rise to the top.
"It's been a great year for me ... it really has," he said.
"Everything has happened so fast. Not in my wildest dreams did I think I'd be in this position at the start of the year.
"But I suppose if you set the bar high and have an ambition to achieve more and more all the time, anything is possible.
"It's my dream come true."