Coetzee: Why Whiteley fits the Bok bill

Tue, 23 May 2017 14:13

REACTION: Springbok coach Allister Coetzee said his new captain, Warren Whiteley, ticks all the right boxes as a captain.

Coetzee named Whiteley, the Lions captain in more than 50 Super Rugby matches, as national captain in Johannesburg on Tuesday.

He will start in this role in the forthcoming three-Test series against France next month.

Whiteley revealed that he was only told, by Coetzee, on Monday night that he was to be appointed as the next Bok skipper - in the place of the now retired Adriaan Strauss.

Coetzee said that naming Whiteley as captain "was not" a difficult decision, as Whiteley had already taken over the team leadership in matches where Adriaan Strauss left the field last year.

"He has walked the walk, paid his dues and his school fees," Coetzee said, when asked about the merits of Whiteley as a captain.

"[he is] a man that can glue a very young Springbok side together, with some experience around him.

"It is an honour and a privilege to embark ion this journey, against the French, with our new captain."

Coetzee said the loss of so much senior leadership in the last few years meant players like Whiteley are gold.

"When there is a transition in any team, it is the senior players that depart and with your senior player go the leadership," the coach said.

"I am fortunate to have in this squad players like Warren [Whiteley], Duane Vermeulen, Eben Etzebeth and Siyamthanda Kolisi who can step up and take the leadership going forward."

Whiteley was understandably excited about the responsibility that comes with being the Bok captain.

"I only knew last [Monday] night, when I had a meeting with coach [Coetzee]," the loose forward said.

"We had a longer than usual chat, and we talked about a lot of things, not just rugby.

"I was quite surprised and he told me to go and discuss it with my family and make a decision. I went home and discussed it with my wife, Felicity, who was shocked really but also very proud.

"I honestly never expected it. I am honoured and really excited."

He said he will rely on senior players around him.

"To have a guy like Duane [Vermeulen], who has played many Tests, a guy like Eben [Etzebeth], who has over 50 Tests, and a guy like Siya [Kolisi] - those are players with great experience that I can learn from every day.

"I am not there to be the 'be all and end all'.

"I just want to do what I usually do. I am not going to change as a person. I am just going to be myself."

"I know what the team and the Springbok brand means for our country and its people, and to be appointed as captain is a real honour and a privilege."