Jean de Villiers will become the 54th Springbok captain after he was named to lead the Boks in the Castle Incoming Tour against England, which starts on Saturday.
The announcement was made on Monday in Durban, where the Springboks are preparing to face England at Mr Price Kings Park this weekend, in the first of three tests.
The 31-year-old De Villiers, who was named the South African Rugby Player of the Year in 2008, has played in 72 tests for the Boks. He made his debut in 2002 against France and is the second most experienced member of the current Springbok squad, with two fewer caps than Bryan Habana.
De Villiers is also the 10th most-capped Springbok of all time and only the fourth Springbok test captain since 2003. John Smit, Victor Matfield and Johann Muller have led the Boks during this time.
“Jean’s leadership qualities are well established and he has always impressed me with his leadership on and off the field,” said Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer.
“I’ve also been impressed by the way he’s led a young and inexperienced DHL Stormers team in Vodacom Super Rugby this year.
“Jean commands respect from everyone in South African rugby and in the short space of time we’ve worked together, Jean has shown that he understands what we want to achieve on the field. He will be surrounded by a core of strong leaders in the squad and we have the utmost faith in them.”
De Villiers said he was humbled by the trust that was placed in him by Meyer and the Springbok management.
“My heart was in my throat when Heyneke told me about his decision on Sunday evening,” said De Villiers.
“This is an honour that is not bestowed upon many people and I really hope I can do my country proud. I do realise there is massive responsibility that comes with this position. The real, hard work only starts now.”
The Springbok captaincy will be reviewed before the start of the Castle Rugby Championship.
Jean de Villiers – Brief biography:
Date of birth: 24 February 1981 in Paarl
Club: University of Stellenbosch
Provincial Union: DHL Western Province
Test debut: 9 November 2002 against France in Marseille
Test caps: 72
Test points: 95 (19 tries)
Representative teams: SA Schools (1999), SA U19 (2000), SA U21 (2001-2002), Springbok Sevens (2002).
Miscellaneous: South African Rugby Player of the Year in 2008; Son of former WP lock Andre de Villiers.