Newly appointed Springbok captain Siya Kolisi believes his new role is a genuine gesture by coach Rassie Erasmus and wasn't motivated by politics.
The Stormers flank became the first black captain of South Africa since unity in 1992. Kolisi will lead the Boks in the three-match series against England, while his Super Rugby teammate Pieter-Steph du Toit will captain the team against Wales in a one-off Test in the United States on Saturday.
Kolisi's appointment was welcomed by most supporters in the country, as he remains a respected and popular rugby player in South Africa. But there are certain sections of the country that questioned the decision to appoint Kolisi, especially with the ongoing debate surrounding the make-up of the Springbok team and SA Rugby's transformation targets.
However, Kolisi, who has been coached by Erasmus since he was 18#years#old, says he had long chat with the Springbok boss and he knows where he stands.
"For me it's a genuine. He (Erasmus) is not that kind of person, I've known him for a long time. He is straightforward with me and you always know where you stand with him. Coach is not a politician and I'm a rugby player," Kolisi said at his first press conference as Bok captain.
"All I want to do is play rugby and inspire -- not only black people, but the whole of South Africa. We play for everyone in the country.
"I can focus on what other people say. That's life, sometimes I'm unhappy with other people's decisions as well. I can only focus on the people who really matter, support me and are always there for me.
"For the coach to show this much faith in me, I just want to do everything I can to deliver on Saturdays. I can't control what people think of me. I can only control what happens on the field."
For Kolisi, though, the captaincy hasn't sunk in yet after Erasmus told him the news in front of all his teammates when the team got together in Johannesburg this week. "To be honest, I think when I play my first game it will hit me that I'm the Springbok captain. I'm just proud to be captain, it means a lot to me and it's a huge privilege and an honour," Kolisi said.
"I can't remember a lot of the moment when Coach broke the news. He told me in front of the whole team and I was shocked. I wasn't even looking at him, because everybody came to congratulate me and I was just shaking hands.
"That moment was unreal. It's hard to explain it. When I told my wife, she put the phone down, called me back and asked me to repeat what I just said! I just asked her to stay calm!"
The 26-year-old has been a great leader for the Stormers over the last two years, but knows a lot of hard work lies ahead for the Bok team following a couple of terrible years for South African rugby. The clean-up job has started, and the captain wants to lead from the front.
"We are honestly excited about the future. From the first alignment camp he made it clear what we needed to do to make the Springbok team. So you know what to work on, and he comes and review our games in Super Rugby," the new Bok captain said. "We know what we have to do to turn it around and our main focus now is to win games on a Saturday."