Earlier this year the Sharks pulled off the massive signing of Eben Etzebeth from French club Toulon, with deal officially confirmed to be a whopping five-year contract.
Etzebeth has said he is really looking forward to returning to South Africa from France, where he has been playing for Toulon. Considering that the towering lock is now 30-years-old, he could quite possibly come to the end of his career at the Durban-based franchise should he see out the full five years of his contract.
The 30-year-old spent several memorable years at the Stormers and Western Province before making the move to France, while he is now just three matches away from reaching a magical 100 Tests for the Boks.
“I’ve learnt a lot about myself during this two-and-half-year period in France,” he says in a wide-ranging interview with the Daily Maverick.
“It was tough initially, as I had to spend about eight months away from my family, who weren’t allowed to visit due to Covid restrictions. Anyone who knows me will tell you how much my family means to me.
“I had a lot of time to think about the future. Overall, I’d say I’m not the same person who left Cape Town back in 2019…
“I go out there to play as hard as I can. At the same time, I’m always thinking about what it might cost my team if I step over the line.
“As you gain more experience, you gain a greater appreciation for the flow of the game. You get an idea of the referees and what they’re looking for. While you play on the edge, you don’t push it too far.”
Meanwhile, in a recent interview for RugbyPass with Jim Hamilton, Etzebeth said that a big factor was to return to South African and to be closer to family, with the Springbok revealing that his father is suffering with cancer.
He added that there were a number of other factors, including the rave reviews about the team culture at the Sharks, as well as his close friendship with Kolisi.