Cape Town - “New beginnings, new beginning in terms of everything...”
These words were uttered by Springbok coach Allister Coetzee after he named his team for Saturday’s first Test against France in Pretoria.
In 2016, during Coetzee’s first season in charge, the Springboks won only four out of 12 Tests, giving him a paltry 33% win-record - the worst of any Bok coach in the professional era.
But he’s confident that 2017 will bring about a turnaround in fortunes.
Coetzee picked an inexperienced side for the first of three Tests against the French, with four debutants - Andries Coetzee, Raymond Rhule, Courtnall Skosan and Ross Cronje - in the starting team, while a fifth uncapped player, Dillyn Leyds, is on the bench.
Coetzee is confident that captain Warren Whiteley will guide the new players.
“I think one thing that Warren would understand best is that it’s hard to make those young, uncapped players feel at ease - when they’re playing in front of a couple of thousand spectators out there. Last year, some of them were overawed by the occasion and couldn’t get going. So he would understand that and make sure that he gets the best out of those players. Warren is a captain that looks at the smallest detail and the smallest things,” Coetzee said on Thursday.
Coetzee also lauded the attitude of the newcomers in the squad.
“There’s quite a relaxed feeling in the camp, amongst the uncapped players, which is good. We have a vibrant group of players, the way they’ve trained... and they will take that with them on to the field. There will be mistakes because they are young players and there are new combinations. We are not living in a fool’s paradise here... but there’s energy and intensity - that is what I’m looking forward to seeing.”
Saturday’s Test at Loftus Versfeld is scheduled for 17:00.
15 Andries Coetzee, 14 Raymond Rhule, 13 Jesse Kriel, 12 Jan Serfontein, 11 Courtnall Skosan, 10 Elton Jantjies, 9 Ross Cronje, 8 Warren Whiteley (captain), 7 Oupa Mohoje, 6 Siya Kolisi, 5 Franco Mostert, 4 Eben Etzebeth, 3 Frans Malherbe, 2 Malcolm Marx, 1 Tendai Mtawarira
Substitutes: 16 Bongi Mbonambi, 17 Steven Kitshoff, 18 Coenie Oosthuizen, 19 Pieter-Steph du Toit, 20 Jean-Luc du Preez, 21 Francois Hougaard, 22 Frans Steyn, 23 Dillyn Leyds
15 Brice Dulin, 14 Yoann Huget, 13 Henry Chavancy, 12 Gaël Fickou, 11 Virimi Vakatawa, 10 Jules Plisson, 9 Maxime Machenaud, 8 Louis Picamoles, 7 Loann Goujon, 6 Yacouba Camara, 5 Yoann Maestri (captain), 4 Julien le Devedec, 3 Uini Atonio, 2 Clément Maynadier, 1 Jefferson Poirot
Substitutes: 16 Camille Chat, 17 Eddy Ben Arous, 18 Mohamed Boughanmi, 19 Bernard le Roux, 20 Kévin Gourdon, 21 Baptiste Serin, 22 Jean-Marc Doussain, 23 Vincent Rattez