Rugby World Cup 2019: Springbok Eben Etzebeth cleared to face Italy

Springbok lock Eben Etzebeth will line-up against Italy in a must-win Rugby World Cup Pool B clash at the Shizuoka Stadium in Japan on Friday despite allegations of physical and racial abuse hanging over him.

The matter stems from an incident in the South African coastal town of Langebaan on August 25, during which a man was allegedly racially and physically abused by a group that included Etzebeth.

The South African Human Right Commission (SAHRC) will approach the Equality Court on Friday to ask it to hear what amounts to a civil case, a date for which will only be set later.

State prosecutors have yet to decide whether there is a case to answer.

Etzebeth has denied any wrongdoing and for now remains part of the South African squad.

Captain Siya Kolisi said Etzebeth had not been affected by the drama.

"Not from what I'm seeing. We've been just preparing for the game," Kolisi said. "That's all we've been talking about. It's a very important game for us this week.

"Every game for us from now on is a play-off game. If we slip up, we're out of the competition so that's what we've been focusing on."

"Eben is part of our squad for the World Cup. He's going to be playing tomorrow and he's going to be focusing on the game," added Springboks assistant coach Mzwandile Stick said.

South African Rugby said on Thursday it would abide by the jurisdiction of the Equality Court and confirmed it had instituted an "internal process" to address the issue.

The timing of Wednesday's announcement by the SAHRC will be of some concern to Springbok coach Rassie Erasmus.

It comes two days before arguably the biggest match for the Boks since their World Cup semi-final against New Zealand in 2015.

South Africa, one of the pre-tournament favourites, must beat Italy on Friday to stay in contention for a quarter-final place and Etzebeth is a key member of their forward pack.

Italy scrum-half Tito Tebaldi says beating South Africa will be the perfect culmination of several years of hard work by his team.

Italy will be the clear underdogs but victory will seal a first ever World Cup quarter-final for the Europeans.

Tebaldi says the input of Italy's South African-born assistant coaches, Marius Goosen and Mike Catt on defence and attack respectively, has helped the team formulate a plan to counter the considerable threat of the Springboks.

Join us at 10:45pm Friday for live updates of the South Africa v Italy Rugby World Cup clash