- World Rugby Player of the Year, Pieter-Steph du Toit, predicted the Welsh and English would likely arrive angry when the British and Irish Lions tour South Africa next year.
- The Springboks eliminated both Wales and England from last year’s Rugby World Cup.
- The British and Irish Lions Tour secured Castle as a name sponsor, SA Rugby announced at FNB Stadium on Thursday.
Reigning World Rugby and SA Rugby Player of the Year, Pieter-Steph du Toit, predicted that the Welsh and English players in the British and Irish Tour team will likely come to South Africa angry, following their defeats in last year’s World Cup.
The Boks ousted Wales in the semifinals and then beat England in the final of last year’s Rugby World Cup in Japan, to win a historic third Webb Ellis trophy.
Next year’s British and Irish Tour, the next mega tournament on the rugby calendar, got a sponsorship boost yesterday when Castle were announced as series sponsors.
Speaking at the announcement of the partnership, Du Toit said:
"For me, it’s almost bigger than the World Cup.
"You see all the supporters that come to South Africa for the tour. My youngest brother was quite young in 2009 and he asked my father: 'I thought they were playing in South Africa?' My father said yes they are but there are just so many red jerseys out there.
"I guess because it only comes every 12 years and, if he gets selected, I think Frans Steyn is going to be the only Springbok to play in it twice.
"And because it’s in South Africa, you have a bit more pressure, especially when you’ve just come back from a World Cup.
"You’ve got to perform and do what’s expected of you and make everyone proud – the sponsors and the supporters.
"I wouldn’t say there is added pressure on us. If we had lost in the World Cup final, I think there would be even more pressure on us in this tour, to show what we are capable of.
"We beat Wales and England in the semifinal and the final last year, so the players from those two teams are probably going to be a bit angry and they have something to prove.
"We will have to up our game and show why we are world champions, where we are at the moment and what we can do."
Du Toit, who put on a back row show in last year’s tournament, said he was looking forward to running out at the FNB Stadium for the first Test on 24 July next year.
The tour then moves to Cape Town and comes back to Johannesburg’s Ellis Park for the finale. The Lions are unbeaten since losing the 2009 series 2-1 against South Africa, after winning in Australia and drawing in New Zealand last time out.
"If I get selected or I get to play, I am looking forward to running out onto FNB Stadium for the first Test," said Du Toit.
"I think that’s going to be a wonderful experience. It’s going to be a really big honour and privilege to play in this series.
"Everyone wants to play for the Springboks and every South African supports the Springboks.
"If you grew up in South Africa, the Springbok is a part of you, it’s in your blood. I guess that’s why we are so passionate about the team and the sport."