SHOCKER: Toulon president labels Bok lock Etzebeth as a ‘handicap’

In a wide-ranging interview with newspaper Var-matinLemaître explained the issues the club faces in terms of player recruitment ahead of the upcoming 2022/2023 season, and quite bizarrely took a swipe at Etzebeth and Argentinian Facundo Isa. 

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Etzebeth joined the French club in a high-profile, big-money move in 2019, and Lemaître suggested they weren’t getting bang for their buck.

“There is a double problem in recruiting: the Salary Cap and the JIFFs. You can’t do just anything, so I pay special attention to the situation of internationals because they can be an opportunity or a handicap. In this case, players like Eben Etzebeth and Facundo Isa are a clear handicap for the club.

“The policy of the XV of France is very clear and we know that some players like Gros or Villière will be called up regularly. While for foreigners it is different. I spoke with Bernard Laporte who agrees with me: the League should work with World Rugby to prevent foreign countries from coming to the Top 14 supermarket to take the players they need for their selection.

“Or, if they do, there should be some compensation. These players get paid, cost the club full, and are used by someone else. This, even at the level of labor law, does not exist. There is a problem to be resolved.”

Towards the end of last year, Toulon announced that Etzebeth will be forced to spend a three-month period out of action due to the latest concussion he suffered while playing for the Boks against England.

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As a result, the concussion protocol will rule Etzebeth out until the end of February.

The decision was made after specialist advice and is in line with the concussion management protocol of the National Rugby League (LNR).

Etzebeth apparently suffered concussion against England

Interestingly, though, the towering lock’s concussion against England was not picked up in the game itself as he went on to play the full 80 minutes.

“Rugby Club Toulonnais wishes Eben Etzebeth a speedy recovery,” the French club said in a statement.

However, it would also be understandable if Toulon were somewhat frustrated after losing the services of a big-money recruit such as Etzebeth, who has barely featured for the club to date.

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