The Springboks are on the brink of wrapping up the series against France in the second Test match at Kings Park today, but captain Warren Whiteley says they have not talked about that possibility as a group.
If the Boks register their second win over the European visitors in Durban, they will win the three-match series with a Test to spare at Ellis Park as they continue their mission of exorcising the painful memories of last year.
“It would mean a lot for us as a group if we can win the series but we haven’t spoken about it,” Whiteley said during his captain’s press conference yesterday at the team’s base in Umhlanga.
“We are focused on the game on Saturday [today] and we are preparing for the same approach as the previous game. We must try to improve our performance and that is what we chase every week.”
Whiteley will be playing his second match as Bok captain in his hometown, but said there will be no time for emotions as his mission is to win a Test match against an experienced side.
“I have played here many times before but this is a different challenge and an opportunity for us more than anything to try and win a Test match,” the Bok captain said.
France coach Guy Noves made eight changes this week to the squad that lost to the Springboks in Pretoria, and Whiteley is expecting Les Bleus to be a tougher outfit to crack.
“We expect them to be improved because they have picked guys who played in the French Super 14 final,” he said.
“They are going to be a good side and challenging for us as a team. We have tried to focus on ourselves unlike the changes they have made. We expect more physicality because they are more direct and their set-piece is strong.
“We know that they will be competitive. [Fullback] Scott Spedding, who I played with as a junior, runs the ball very well and he is a fantastic player. He is a great runner and we expect them to take good decisions on the field.”
Perfecting combinations is another area of importance for the Boks and Whiteley said he enjoyed playing with flankers Oupa Mahoje and Siya Kolisi in the first match.
“I thought it was great. I enjoyed playing with them. They are different players and with time the relationship will improve like any combination on the field,” said Whiteley, adding that the Springboks also have to improve their intensity, and in the line-outs.
“That is one thing we like to do during the week, to increase the intensity and hopefully things will fall nicely into the place on Saturday [today],” he said.