The Springboks will probably go into their match against Italy today (4pm kickoff) with a couple of goals - one hopefully being to prevent another disaster in Padova.
Also, their looming date with Wales next week cannot be expected to be easy, and that makes a solid performance against the Azzurri even more important - both for their confidence and dignity.
So, here are six ways the Springboks can come out on top today:
1. Enough with the aimless kicking
I don’t think much needs to be said here, other than it has to stop.
In recent weeks, the Springboks have booted away precious possession with aimless kicks that have, at times, resulted in dangerous counter-attacking play by the opposition (think Ireland).
Even against a poor France side, the Boks’ endless kicking - even though there were better options available on almost every occasion - didn’t do them any good.
Yes, Italy have produced a shocking record (they’ve lost nine out of 10 Test) since their 20-18 victory over South Africa last year, but that doesn’t mean the Springboks should ask for trouble. Besides, you can never underestimate any opposition, as the Boks should have learnt over the past two years
2. Wilco Louw!
If his performances this season have been anything to go by, both with the Stormers and the Springboks, then we can only expect more of the good stuff from the promising prop. Louw has been massive at the shoving contest this season, and his scrummaging abilities will come in very handy against the Italians.
After all, a solid set-piece can only do good, and today will be no different. And the Springboks are more than capable of delivering in that department.
3. The right attitude
At a captain’s press conference yesterday, Eben Etzebeth said that they wouldn’t be going into their clash with Italy to get revenge.
But maybe, just maybe, the Springboks should go into the fixture with exactly that goal - to get revenge. Not in an angry way, or any way that might break their focus, but in a determined way.
Today, they need to play with intensity, and with passion. I firmly believe that if they do that, they’ll be halfway there.
Too many times this season we have seen the Springboks play like they didn’t even want to be on the field, and there can be none of that today.
4. Slot those kicks, Handre
I hope Handre Pollard doesn’t miss four kicks at goal again. That is all.
5. Boss the breakdowns
Earlier this week, scrum coach Matt Proudfoot spoke about the Italians’ ability to stop forward momentum at the breakdowns and, needless to say, the Boks are going to have to go all out on the ground to keep Italy in check.
The absence of Malcom Marx will surely be felt when it comes to that area, but the addition of the lieks of Bongi Mbonambi to the starting line-up should somewhat make up for that - when it comes to the breakdowns, Mbonambi doesn’t disappoint either.
But dominating the rucks is one thing, and the Boks are also going to have to react quickly and get the ball out, because the Italians aren’t going to stand around thinking about what they can have for dinner - they are going to be all over that.
6. Selections, selections
Well, I would say one of the best ways to increase their chances of beating the Italians would be to be done with the players who have done nothing to improve the Boks’ on-field productions.
But that would be pointless, I guess.
Anyway, futile as it may be, just imagine what a shake-up in certain positions, like outside centre, could have brought about...