Boks driven by 'Green and Gold pride'

Wed, 09 Nov 2016 12:05
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INTERVIEW: The results this year may not reflect that, but South Africa are on the way to once again become one of the world's best teams.

It may sound like typical pre-match cliched media utterings, but Loose forward Warren Whiteley believes he speaks from a position of authority on the subject.

The Springboks are coming off a record 15-57 loss to New Zealand in their last outing, just one win in their last five matches and other unwanted firsts like losing to Ireland for the first time on home soil and losing for the first time in Argentina.

Despite the 'doom and gloom' that have beset the game in South Africa, Whiteley feels there is a good enough example of how it can all be turned around.

He was part of a Lions team, kicked out of Super Rugby in 2013, that came back and after three years of hard worked reached the Super Rugby Final this year - having had to rebuild their team from the ground up.

"I have been in a similar situation before," Whiteley responded when asked about the Boks' results under Allister Coetzee as head coach - with just four wins from nine Tests, sitting at a lowly 44 percent success rate.

"I have played in a team that has been on the wrong side results and struggled to get momentum, but believed strongly in what they want to achieve," he said of the Lions' turnaround strategy that started in 2014.

"The players stuck to their guns and [the Lions] eventually turned the corner.

"The results might not be going our way, but if we stay consistent it will come.

I believe we have what it takes to be one of the world's best teams and I believe we are heading in the right direction."

Whiteley feels the turnaround may come as soon as Twickenham on Saturday, despite the Boks facing an England team currently on a nine-match winning streak - coached by Eddie Jones, a good friend and mentor of the Bok coach.

"We have worked extremely hard in taking steps forward," Whiteley said, adding that  the team is really positive and optimistic about the next few weeks - which will also seem them play Italy and Wales.

"The more time we spend together, the closer we get."

He also felt the Boks' 31-all draw against the Barbarians this past weekend showed there are some good youngsters putting up their hands and have the qualities to play at international level.

"That is also key to growing our squad, seeing those youngsters coming through and growing the depth."

He said there is still plenty of pride left in the Bok jersey and the pessimistic mood around the team's performances may soon change.

"The Springbok jersey means a lot to me and it means a lot to every single player," he said, adding: "That is more than enough motivation.

"Regardless of who you playing, to represent your country is extremely special and the pinnacle of playing rugby in South Africa."

@rugby365com