Defence system will be key for Springboks
They were certainly a much more daunting prospect than they had looked 18 months ago.
By winning the Investec Rugby Championship, the Springboks had proven themselves ahead of the world tournament.
“I think our defence has been amazing,” he told sport.co.za.
“That has been a turning point with our side in the last two years and that is how we beat the All Blacks last year in Wellington [in 2018]. We are creating a lot of defensive pressure and that defensive pressure is giving us turnover opportunities.
“Those turnover opportunities are where we are scoring tries at the moment,” he said.
The draw with the All Blacks in Wellington last month had shown how comfortable the Springboks were with their defensive line and while there were issues of players shooting out of line, they were also comfortable with their scramble defence.
“Guys are shooting out of line, but we want to put skillsets under pressure and that is the heart of the matter.
“Attacking lines are so good these days, if you think of the New Zealanders and their skillset, if you give them space and you give them time to make a decision, nine times out of 10 they are going to make the right decision and they are going to score tries.
“So you need to put that skillset under pressure,” he said.
“The only way is by coming off the line hard, and that is what [defence] coach Jacques [Nienaber] is good at doing. Yes it took some time, if you think back to when we played the Test match series against England. But we have seen in the last couple of games the fruit of that work coming through.”
Whiteley said Siya Kolisi was ready to resume his place on the flank of the scrum, and the captaincy. He had been phenomenal, he said, when returning from injury to play against Argentina.
“I think he will start for us as captain, probably with Pieter-Steph du Toit and Duane Vermeulen. Flo [Francois Louw] has been really effective off the bench. Probably Flo off the bench is where my mind is going now, if I had to shoot a loose trio for that first Test match against New Zealand,” he said.