GALLERY: Departing Boks’ message – ‘Thank you, South Africa!’

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The Springboks left for Japan on Friday after around 2,000 South Africans had gathered at OR Tambo International to send them on their way.

The mood surrounding this group is one of optimism and positivity, and there is a genuine belief that the Boks can challenge for their third World Cup title.

That much was reflected at the departure, where captain Siya Kolisi addressed the vocal group of supporters who had arrived to say their goodbyes.

The Boks will now have a 25-hour journey to Seki, where they will be based before moving to Kumagaya for their warm-up fixture against hosts Japan on September 6.

“We’d like to say ‘thank you to South Africa’ for the support and best wishes they have shown the Springboks this week,” said coach Rassie Erasmus.

“It has been a busy week and a tiring one at times to be honest. The boys had two hard field sessions as well as morning to night activities with our commercial partners, media and public.

“The support people have shown to the team has been really humbling and inspiring. We’re just a rugby team that is going out there to do our best on the rugby field but we know that when the Springboks are doing well it gives the country a lift or, at least, I hope it does.

“To have so many people behind us, really gives the boys a lift but, I’ll be honest, the expectations make me nervous.

“But this is our job and when we are in Japan we’ll be focused on the main thing, the rugby.”

Sports minister Nathi Mthethwa was also present at the airport to send the Boks on their way.

“Each time the Springboks win the Rugby World Cup, they bring confidence to the entire country,” he said.

“We want them to be the first team to win the RWC on three different continents and we wish them well for the tournament in Japan.”

The Springboks’ final warm-up match before the Rugby World Cup begins, against Japan next Friday, and is live on SuperSport 1 at 12:05 (SA time)

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