Lions No 8 Warren Whiteley has been named as the new Springbok captain for the forthcoming series against France in June.
Whiteley, who led the Lions to the Super Rugby final last year, said that he was informed of the decision by Bok coach Allister Coetzee on Monday night.
“It is such a big occasion. In fact, I have never dreamt about this. I honestly thought that it would never be possible. So, grateful more than anything, and excited. Really excited,” Whiteley said with a smile on Tuesday at the squad announcement in Johannesburg.
Coetzee added: “It was not a difficult decision to make Warren the captain. I think what we need to understand is that there should be a certain picture of what a captain should be like when it comes to leading a Springbok side.
“A characteristic of a man who has walked the walk, a man that has really paid his dues and school fees. A man that will make sure to glue a very young Springbok side together, with some experience around him, and make sure that we get the results.
“Warren has been one of the outstanding leaders in South African rugby for many years.
“He is respected by his teammates and opposition alike, and has a lot of experience when it comes to captaincy, having led the Lions with great authority for many seasons. He is resilient, copes well under pressure and makes good decisions.”
— South African Rugby (@Springboks) May 23, 2017
There are recalls for utility back Frans Steyn and No 8 Duane Vermeulen, who are both based in France, as well as experienced hooker Chiliboy Ralepelle.
But the squad does signal a new Bok era in many respects, with previous stalwarts such as Bryan Habana, JP Pietersen, Willem Alberts and the Du Plessis brothers Bismarck and Jannie all left out.
The new caps in the squad are Andries Coetzee, Ross Cronjé, Courtnall Skosan, Ruan Dreyer, Lizo Gqoboka, Lukhanyo Am, Dillyn Leyds and Raymond Rhule.
Lood de Jager, Bulls – 28 caps, Pieter-Steph du Toit, Stormers – 20 caps, Ruan Dreyer, Lions – uncapped, Eben Etzebeth, Stormers – 54 caps, Steven Kitshoff, Bordeaux – 10 caps, Siya Kolisi, Stormers – 16 caps, Jaco Kriel, Lions – 7 caps, Frans Malherbe, Stormers – 15 caps, Malcolm Marx, Lions – 2 caps, Bongi Mbonambi, Stormers – 5 caps, Oupa Mohoje, Cheetahs – 15 tests, Franco Mostert, Lions – 7 caps, Tendai Mtawarira, Sharks – 87 caps, Lizo Gqoboka, Bulls – uncapped, Coenie Oosthuizen, Sharks – 23 caps, Chiliboy Ralepelle, Sharks – 22 caps, Duane Vermeulen, Toulon – 37 caps, Warren Whiteley (captain), Lions – 15 caps.
Lukhanyo Am, Sharks – uncapped, Andries Coetzee, Lions – uncapped, Ross Cronjé, Lions – uncapped, Damian de Allende, Stormers – 22 caps, Francois Hougaard, Worcester – 39 caps, Elton Jantjies, Lions – 11 caps, Jesse Kriel, Bulls – 17 caps, Dillyn Leyds, Stormers – uncapped, Rudy Paige (scrumhalf), Bulls – 7 caps, Raymond Rhule, Cheetahs – uncapped, Jan Serfontein, Bulls – 26 caps, Courtnall Skosan, Lions – uncapped, Frans Steyn, Montpellier – 53 caps.