“People always focus on the first game and although you never run out in the green and gold to lose it won’t be the end of the world if we lose,” Botha said. “The team that finishes second on the log in our pool won’t have such a challenging route on the way to the final.
“Any team wants to start with a win to get that rhythm and momentum, but I am confident we can pull it off. We are the one team that can give the All Blacks a good run for their money.”
While the rivalry has tipped heavily in favour of New Zealand over the last few years, the Boks under the guidance of coach Rassie Erasmus have been making up ground. The last three matches between the teams have ended in a victory apiece and a draw in their most recent clash in the 2019 Rugby Championship.
Looking beyond the opening match, Botha believed the tournament had no clear favourites as was the case in 2011 and 2015 where the All Blacks came out on top.