Whiteley: Boks to embrace nation's diversity

Fri, 09 Jun 2017 20:10

PRE-MATCH BUILD-UP: Not only is South Africa a diverse country, but the Springboks reflect that diversity as a national team.

Bok captain Warren Whiteley, speaking ahead of his first Test as team leaders, said it is important to embrace that diversity.

Speaking of a "new beginning" ahead of Saturday's opening Test in the three-match series against France, Whiteley said it is a "massive opportunity" for the team.

"We have had sufficient time to prepare and we've had great training camps," he said about the opening encounter at Loftus Versfeld.

"We have laid the foundations – not just on the way we want to play, but also the team culture.

"There is a lot of excitement ahead of this weekend. However, the ultimate Test is for us to put that into practice."

He said this Bok team wants to build its own culture, but warned that there is no 'quick fix'.

"It can't just be created by one individual, it has to be a collective," the Bok skipper said, adding" "That was what was really important in Plettenberg Bay, we came together, spoke about it openly – the values we want to take forward.

"More than anything, it is about establishing that brotherhood, the environment where we become a family – that is what we are all about.

"We are diverse nation and a diverse team," he said, adding: "We must embrace that and that is what we have been doing.

"That culture is not something you can just establish in a week. It is a process that will continue throughout the year.

"We have to revisit it every week and make small adjustments where necessary.

"It is something that grows over a year, two or three years.

"The foundation has been laid and that is the most important. We have t take it forward from here, let it grow."

It has been a very busy week for Whiteley, ho started the week by attending the birth of his second child.

Despite all the excitement of welcoming his first son into the world in the same week that he will captain his country for the first time, Whiteley said he was "not too emotional".

However, he warned of the danger posed by 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," Whiteley said.
"They have a powerful pack and also big outside backs, so it's going to be a real challenge for us.

"I feel they will stick to what they did successfully in he Six Nations.

"They play nice and direct, but they also have some great outside backs - they are willing to take the odd risk."

By Jan de Koning, at the Springbok camp