England v South Africa, Twickenham, November 24
Meyer hails 'enforcer' Etzebeth
ESPN Staff
November 22, 2012
South Africa's Eben Etzebeth stretches the England defence, South Africa v England, Ellis Park, Johannesburg, South Africa, June 16, 2012
Lock Eben Etzebeth has been found not guilty of an eye gouging offence against Scotland last Saturday © PA Photos

South Africa coach Heyneke Meyer has labelled rising star Eben Etzebeth as one of the key 'enforcers' in his side ahead of their showdown with England on Saturday.

Meyer was relieved to be able to name the 21-year-old lock in his side for the Twickenham clash after he was cleared of an eye-gouging charge in the wake of the Boks' victory over Scotland last weekend.

Etzebeth appeared before a disciplinary hearing after being cited for allegedly making contact with the "eye or eye area" of Scotland fly-half Greig Laidlaw. The judicial officer, David Martin, decided the contact had been accidental.

The highly-rated second row only made his Test debut earlier this year having graduated from South Africa's U20s side but has wasted no time in cementing his place in Meyer's plans and the coach is clearly a huge fan.

"It makes a huge difference (to have Etzebeth available)," Meyer said. "He is playing great rugby. He has shown himself against the All Blacks and Australia and he is close to being one of the best locks in the world. He is one of the enforcers in the team.

"Eben has grown a hell of a lot in the lineout. Suddenly he is putting pressure on in the position and his weight advantage is a big benefit in the scrums. In these conditions you don't get quick ball and Eben is great at the breakdown, he is a physical guy there and his cleaning technique is excellent. We were dangerous when we played England at Ellis Park (in June) because we got quick ball."

Meyer is not expecting the Boks to have it all their own way having seen England go toe-to-toe with his charges earlier this year. That brutal three-Test series only served to remind the former Leicester Tigers boss that his side will face a formidable physical challenge this weekend.

Boks coach Heyneke Meyer impressed by England's physicality

"Looking back I always looked on England teams as great teams but I never thought they were so tough but when I coached at Leicester I was really impressed by their physicality," he said.

"Lewis Moody and Martin Corry and those guys are probably the toughest guys I have coached. My whole perception has changed. They always bring it physically. It will be a bruising encounter. The last three Test matches were really physical and that was at the end of their long season. Now they are fresh and we need to toughen up and put our bodies on the line.

"I have a lot of respect for their scrummaging power. Dan Cole, I believe, is close to being the best tight-head in the world. They have really good lineouts and defensively they are a good team."

South Africa: Zane Kirchner, JP Pietersen, Juan de Jongh, Jean de Villiers (captain), Francois Hougaard, Pat Lambie, Ruan Pienaar, Gurthro Steenkamp, Adriaan Strauss (vice-captain), Jannie du Plessis, Eben Etzebeth, Juandre Kruger, Francois Louw, Willem Alberts, Duane Vermeulen

Replacements: Schalk Brits, Heinke van der Merwe, Pat Cilliers, Flip van der Merwe, Marcell Coetzee, Elton Jantjies, Jaco Taute, Lwazi Mvovo

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

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