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Mandela telephones the Springboks

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DUNEDIN. – Former South African President Nelson Mandela told the Springbok team they can count on the entire country’s support when they face the might of the All Blacks this coming Saturday in a crucial Vodacom Tri-Nations Test match at Carisbrook.

The national rugby team’s number one supporter praised the Springboks for their courage and determination they demonstrated when they inflicted a narrow but exciting 22-19 victory over the Wallabies in front of a record crowd of 43 000 supporters in Perth.

In doing so, the Springboks further stretched their lead at the top of the log to 12 points and increased their unbeaten record in the 2005 competition to three matches.

Madiba caught the Springboks by surprise when he called shortly after 9pm (NZ time) and asked to speak to the coach, the captain and “that fast youngster who scored the tries”, leftwing Bryan Habana.

White afterwards described his short conversation with the great man as “very inspirational.”

“Madiba is such an awesome inspiration. We are extremely humbled by the fact that he took time out from his well-deserved rest in Morrocco to speak to us. I thanked him for his passionate support for the Springboks and gave him my word that we will give it our best effort on Saturday,” said White.

Captain John Smit described Madiba as the single biggest motivator of the Springboks

“It is truly amazing to see the effect he has on the players. For him to phone us while he is meant to rest is really something special. We are all inspired by his view that this team is doing something good for the country, because Madiba is the pioneer of all that is good and well in South Africa at the moment,” said Smit.

Bryan Habana, the young Bok speedster who has been in red-hot form this season with 9 tries in eight Tests, could not believe it when Madiba asked to speak to him.

His first reaction was that he was humbled by the opportunity to speak to a man “who means such a lot to the Springboks and the whole of South Africa.”

 “Madiba said the team always makes him proud and wished us well for the match against the All Blacks,” enthused Habana.

The Springboks will have their first training session on Tuesday afternoon and the Test 22 will be announced Wednesday at noon during a press conference at the team hotel

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