Rugby World Cup 2011
Bok farewell 'surreal'
Juan de Jongh (Gallo)
Wellington - Rugby World Cup debutant Juan de Jongh was overwhelmed by the Springbok team's farewell, which drew thousands of fans to Sandton, and the reception they received from hundreds of supporters when they arrived in Wellington, New Zealand, late on Friday.Click to BUY your very own Springbok RWC jersey
"It was fantastic there in Sandton to see how the people took time out to come and see us off," said De Jongh, one of only 12 members of South Africa's squad making their first appearance at the global showpiece.
"To arrive here with the same hype surrounding us made the whole experience about four or five times better than I could have ever imagined," he said.
"The way we were received last night was amazing, we knew that when we came over it was going to be big, but that was incredible."
Bok skipper John Smit said before the team departed that they were feeling under more pressure than before they won the title four years ago, but De Jongh said the reception they received had boosted morale.
"I think the support we got does more for our confidence than adding pressure," he said.
De Jongh said had also accepted that he was likely to play second fiddle to South Africa's experienced centre pairing of Jean de Villiers and Jaque Fourie.
"I am very privileged to be here and to have been selected ahead of so many other great centres like Wynand Olivier and an experienced guy like Adi Jacobs," De Jongh said.
"I know the guys who are here very well and I've played with them, so I'm looking forward to working with them once more.
"Hopefully I can use my chance when it is given to me by the coaches." Meanwhile, Springbok coach Peter de Villiers came out in support of his captain at the team's first official press conference in Wellington.
De Villiers said Smit, shifted back and forth in the front row for the last couple of seasons, was the best number two in the business.
"John is the best hooker in world rugby at the moment so we will be very sensible when we make selections," De Villiers said.
Smit said he was comfortable playing at hooker or prop.
"Obviously I prefer hooker but really the last couple of years I have been playing wherever it is needed for the team," he said.