Eben: ‘Underrated’ Fourie is a real fighter

As Deon Fourie nurses his way back from knee surgery, fellow Springbok world champion Eben Etzebeth has shed light on what drives the veteran utility forward.

Fourie went under the knife in early April after an anterior cruciate ligament injury with the DHL Stormers against La Rochelle in the Champions Cup, and faces up to six months on the sidelines.

Stormers director of rugby John Dobson has vowed that the 37-year-old flanker will bounce back, and speak on the latest episode of The Rugby Pod with Jim Hamilton, Etzebeth acknowledged the fighting spirit of Fourie.

The two Boks were Stormers and WP teammates between 2012 and 2014, yet it was Fourie’s role in helping South Africa defend the Rugby World Cup in France last year that Etzebeth believes encapsulates the seasoned campaigner’s career.

“Deon’s story is incredible. Back when he was at the Stormers, I personally felt he was a bit underrated. He was unlucky not to get a Springbok cap in the first place,” the Test centurion said. “He went to France to finish his career and came back to the Stormers to play a couple of matches off the bench and call it quits.

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“The Deon Fourie I knew in 2012 when I started at the Stormers, he was always a fighter. Obviously not the biggest man in the room but he has got some dogs in him.

“He is a real fighter and made his debut against Wales [in 2022] and then getting selected for the world cup, he was probably going thinking he would play against Tonga and Romania and not many more matches.

“Then Malcolm [Marx] went down and the plan then was for Bongi [Mbonambi] to go 80, 80, 80 quarters, semi and final. In the final, second minute I think, he goes down. Just on Bongi, that guy is not the most skillful hooker in the world or the fastest hooker but that guy is one of the hardest men in rugby.

“He will carry with his head into a wall and he just loves scrumming and hates losing – and he almost never does. He was massive for us in that scrum department, all over the field but especially scrumming, and when he went down it was I think maybe a bit of panic under the coaches and some of the players.

“I don’t think I can call it panic but now Deon has to step in. He actually came as a flanker and had to play 77 minutes of a world cup final against the All Blacks. Just what he did and how he stood up his man, to actually come on and perform, you won’t get a better story than that in rugby.”

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