Jean de Villiers is the Springboks’ stand-in skipper because he offers the Boks “something extra”, says coach Jake White.
However, Tuesday’s announcement came as a massive shock, after White had earlier suggested that Wikus van Heerden was his back-up captain to John Smit.
“There’s been a lot of speculation about Wikus and AJ [Venter], but I think it would have been unreasonable to put additional pressure on Wikus in his first match back in the team,” White told Die Burger’s Herbert Pretorius.
“AJ has occasionally led the Sharks on to the field, but he’s still trying to establish himself in the team. The same can be said of Joe [van Niekerk], who has captained teams up to the U21 level. Jean knows there’s a great responsibility on his shoulders and that this is a big event. He has the respect of the seniors to tell them on the field what to do.”
De Villiers said he was looking forward to his new role on Saturday.
“It came quite suddenly,” he admitted. “I consider it a big privilege. I’ve captained the Stormers this year and feel ready for this challenge.”
Meanwhile, White confirmed that a couple of the new caps would leave the squad after the match against the World XV.
“There’s a possibility that newcomers like Jannie [du Plessis] and Andries [Bekker] won’t get a chance to play soon,” he said. “I’m going to send them, as well as a couple of other players, back to their unions at the end of the week to play Currie Cup rugby.
“These players are happy with my decision. They’re glad that they’ve been able to train with us and they now know they’re being considered for a place in the team. They also know what they’ve got to do in future to become first choice players and establish themselves.”