Following a very good week of on- an off-field preparations, the Springboks will move camp from Plettenberg Bay to Pretoria on Sunday where they will continue to fine-tune preparations for the first Castle Lager Incoming Series Test against France.
The two teams meet each other next Saturday, 10 June at Loftus Versfeld in Pretoria in the first Test of the three-match series.
The Springboks wrapped up their on-field preparations in Plettenberg Bay on Friday afternoon with two field sessions and also some early morning gym work.
The week-long camp had a strong on- and off-field focus, and much time was set aside to include activities that were geared towards creating a strong team environment.
The players also played their part to give back to the local communities who came out in big numbers last Tuesday, to support the Boks at their open training session at the Bitou Rugby Club.
On Thursday, several players took part in a community coaching clinic in Hornlee, Knysna. Meanwhile, several squad members also played their part to support the SA Rugby 2023 Rugby World Cup bid, which was formally presented to World Rugby earlier this week.
Springbok captain Whiteley lauded the impact of the Plettenberg Bay training camp.
“We are essentially a new group, so it was important for us to be able to spend quality time together as a team,” explained Whiteley.
“Off the field we really spent a good deal of time to focus on the building of a strong and enjoyable team environment. Those activities were thoroughly enjoyable and it gave us chance to get to know one another much better, which is so important for a good team environment.”
The Boks also roped in South African Test referee Jaco Peyper, who spent two days at the camp to assist with many technical aspects of the Laws of the Game.
“Jaco is a very experienced and well-respected international referee, and for us as players it was a rare chance to spend quality time with him and to gain insight from his experience as a world-class referee,” explained Whiteley.
“We covered a lot of important technical detail with him and we as players really enjoyed the interaction with Jaco. We know he has a very busy schedule, so we are all grateful for the two days he was able to assist us in camp.
“He has the honour of refereeing first the Test between the All Blacks and the British and Irish Lions and we want to wish him well with that very important appointment.”
Centres Lionel Mapoe and Damian de Allende both sat out during the field training sessions because of injury niggles. Mapoe picked up a minor hamstring strain earlier in the week, while De Allende is troubled by a thigh contusion sustained during the last week of Vodacom Super Rugby action.
The Springbok squad travel to Pretoria on Sunday and the team for the first Test in Pretoria will be announced this coming Thursday. Francois Hougaard will join the squad on Monday while Duane Vermeulen joins his Bok team mates on Tuesday, giving the squad its full complement of players.