Players are 'rebuilding the Bok brand'
REACTION: Rebuilding the Springbok culture. That is at the heart of the motivation for South Africa's 3-0 series whitewash of France.
The result means the Boks return to fifth in the world rankings.
Prop Ruan Dreyer, scrumhalf Francois Hougaard and flank Jaco Kriel - who spoke after the Boks' 35-12 victory in the third and final Test over France in Johannesburg at the weekend - said the hard work is not over.
After a disastrous 2016, which produced just four wins in eight Tests, the series triumph over France is an indication that the team is heading in the right direction.
Having dropped to an all-time low of seventh, Allister Coetzee's side is now 3.37 rating points better off than they were at the start of the month - and only half a point away from reclaiming a place in the top four.
The players now return to their Super Rugby franchises, with that tournament concluding on August 5 - before they rejoin the Bok fold for the Rugby Championship, which gets underway on August 19 and runs through to October 7.
That is when the Boks' newfound confidence and flamboyant style will be tested - especially by the All Blacks.
However, the Bok players are adamant that they will continue to grow - especially with the sound platform laid in the June Tests.
Hougaard said they are "really believing" in where they are going as a team.
"We are believing in what we are doing," he said, as the focus shifts to the Rugby Championship and what will be far sterner tests of their resolve.
"[It is about] having everyone on the same page and making everybody understand what it is about," the No.9 said, adding: "It is not about the individual, but more about the team.
"It is not just the 23 on the pitch, but also those who contribute during the week.
"It is easy to be positive when you are in the starting line-up, but when you have to hold the [tackle] bag or week-in, week-out face the disappointment of not playing, that is where your character shows.
"Big up [credit] to the guys who didn't get game time in the last three weeks. We feel for them, but those are the guys that test us and give us a good practice.
"We all work together, towards the same goal.
"We may have won this series 3-0, but there is a lot to work on."
Kriel, who found out late last Friday morning that he is starting - after captain Warren Whiteley was ruled out with a groin strain, also spoke of how the guys around him made life easier.
The Springboks trained the whole week with Kriel at No.7 and Jean-Luc du Preez at No.8.
Kriel said his teammates made it 'easy' for him to slot in and cope with the late changes.
"It shows the Springbok culture is back," the flank said, adding: "Despite the changes, the guys still know their responsibility in the team.
"It has been an amazing four weeks with the boys.
"All the guys will tell you they enjoyed and getting to build a new culture and rebuilding the brand."
Dreyer spoke of the 'honour' of making his Test debut at his home ground, Ellis Park.
He said the Boks need to stick to their structures and do what they do best - then the growth will continue.
By Jan de Koning, from the Bok camp