Springbok captain Warren Whiteley said the Boks had a good week of preparation and are looking forward to opening their season against France at Loftus Versfeld in Pretoria on Saturday afternoon.
The two countries meet at 17h05 in the first of three Castle Lager Incoming Series Tests, with matches to follow in Durban and Johannesburg. Whiteley will skipper the Boks for the first time on Saturday, succeeding hooker Adriaan Strauss who retired at the end of last season.
“This has been a very special week for me personally, with the birth of my son Samuel on Monday, which is really a special gift,” explained the lanky No 8.
“Our team preparations over the last few days have been great and we’ve had three good camps, which made the transition into Plettenberg (last week) and this week in Pretoria really smooth.”
Regarding the new-look Springbok line-up, Whiteley said: “There’s obviously a lot of excitement in the squad, it’s our first Test of the year and we have four uncapped players in the starting line-up plus another one on the bench.”
However, the Springbok skipper warned of the forward and attacking danger of the visiting French team.
“They have one of the best set-pieces in the world and we don’t expect them to move away from their proven DNA of the last couple of years,” said Whiteley.
“They have a powerful pack and also big outside backs, so it’s going to be a real challenge for us, however, it is something we are all looking forward to.
Earlier on Friday morning, Whiteley and his team mates were handed their new MTN-branded Springbok match jerseys from Springbok lock Bakkies Botha at their team hotel in Pretoria.
“It was amazing to spend some time with the Springboks this morning and I am looking forward to see this new team playing against France tomorrow,” said Botha, who retired in 2014 from international rugby after representing the Boks in 85 Tests.
Following the announcement event of their new sponsorship with South African telecommunications and mobile company MTN, the Boks finished their match preparation with the customary captain’s run at Loftus at around lunchtime.