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De Villiers named Springboks captain

South Africa coach Heyneke Meyer has named experienced centre Jean de Villiers as his captain for the upcoming three-Test series against England.

The 31-year-old, who has won 72 caps for the Springboks, has initially been handed the role until the end of the England tour, which begins with Saturday's first Test in Durban.

The Western Province back, who succeeds the now-retired John Smit, was preferred to the other strong candidate for the role, Pierre Spies of Meyer's former club Blue Bulls.

New coach Meyer, who named a 32-man squad at the weekend, will review the position at the end of the series with two other potential captains, Schalk Burger and Juan Smith, presently out injured.

Meyer said: "Jean's leadership qualities are well established and he has always impressed me with his leadership on and off the field.

"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 is the second most experienced player in the Springboks squad, behind 74-cap Bryan Habana.

De Villiers, who has scored 19 tries since his Test debut 10 years ago, said: "My heart was in my throat when Heyneke told me about his decision on Sunday evening. This is an honour that is not bestowed upon many people, and I really hope I can do my country proud."


From Belfast Telegraph