Bok welcome lifts Johnson

WORDS of encouragement from Bok coach Peter de Villiers and John Smith (90 caps) have inspired uncapped Ashley Johnson to give his best in the upcoming European tour.

WORDS of encouragement from Bok coach Peter de Villiers and John Smith (90 caps) have inspired uncapped Ashley Johnson to give his best in the upcoming European tour.

Cheetahs eighth man Johnson is one of the new players who will represent the Springboks against Leicester in the opening match of their European tour at Welford Road on Friday at 8.45pm.

On Monday De Villiers and Smith welcomed the team at a training session for the opening encounter.

Johnson, 23, said he was especially moved by the fact that De Villiers and Smith told the team they were "not really newcomers".

"They said we have the potential to prove to the world that we are a best side."

Johnson is one of five uncapped players who will make their debuts against Leicester.

He said: "I am very excited to be part of the squad. This tour is going to be a learning curve and I am looking forward to a great challenge. I will do my utmost to help the team open the tour against Leicester on a high."

Johnson had a great season with the Cheetahs, who lost to the Blue Bulls in Saturday's Absa Currie Cup final.

The Boks will be captained by Bulls hooker Chiliboy Ralepelle, who was declared fit on Monday after missing the final.

"It is a privilege and honour to lead the national team in their opening tour match tomorrow. I have no worries or fears because we've got a team mixed with experienced players and youngsters," Ralepelle said yesterday.

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