New Springbok skipper Warren Whiteley was understandably excited about the big responsibility that comes with his role for his country.
Springbok coach Allister Coetzee named Whiteley, who has captained the Lions in more than 50 Super Rugby matches, as national captain on Tuesday in Johannesburg. He will start in this role in the forthcoming Series against France next month.
29-year-old Whiteley said he was surprised by Coetzee’s decision to make him the next Springbok captain, but that he was grateful for the opportunity and relished the challenge to lead the team.
"I only found out last night, when I had my usual one-on-one talk with coach Allister," said Whiteley.
"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."
Whiteley has led the Johannesburg-based Lions with success for the past few seasons. He played for the Sharks and Eastern Province before moving to Johannesburg in 2010.
"I am so grateful for the opportunity and will embrace this huge challenge," said Whiteley.
"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."
Whiteley, a member of the Commonwealth Games gold-medal winning Blitzbok squad in 2014, said he was fortunate to be able to call on a strong group of leaders within the Springbok squad, such as Duane Vermeulen, Beast Mtawarira, Frans Malherbe, Eben Etzebeth, Siya Kolisi and Oupa Mohoje.
"They are all proven and respected leaders at their clubs and franchise teams, and it is very comforting for me as a leader to be able to call on the advice of such players," he said.
"I’ve always enjoyed decision-making roles, but the Springbok captaincy is a completely different challenge. I am excited about the job and I shall embrace the responsibility and huge challenge."