The euphoria of beating the All Blacks in New Zealand has not suddenly made the Springboks think they are the best team in the world.
Captain Siya Kolisi was adamant on Friday at his pre-Test press conference that his team were not getting carried away by the historic 36-34 triumph in Wellington three weeks ago.
In fact, the Boks are bracing for an almighty confrontation at Loftus Versfeld on Saturday afternoon (5.05pm kickoff), as they know the Kiwis want to prove a point, despite having already clinched the Rugby Championship title.
“We want to make sure that the same intensity, and even more, from Wellington must be there this week. We want to make sure we don’t get shocked – we just meet them with intensity, and guys giving their best, and then the next guy comes on,” Kolisi said in Pretoria.
“They’ve been number one for such a long time because they bring it every week, no matter who they play. So, I can’t say we are there, but we feel as a team that we are improving every week.
“They will take it up a notch, as they’ve said. That’s the thing for us – we don’t want to be shocked by their intensity. From the word go, not wait for a couple of minutes.”
Personally, Kolisi will be part of a new dynamic in the loose trio as Francois Louw has replaced Sikhumbuzo Notshe at No 8.
Along with Pieter-Steph du Toit, they will face a well-rested All Black captain Kieran Read, Sam Cane and new sensation Shannon Frizell.
The Stormers flank, though, doesn’t feel that the Bok back-rowers will find it difficult to work together as a combination.
“We are different players now compared to last year (when they played together against New Zealand at Newlands). I know what I can bring, and so does Pieter-Steph. With Flo, you can’t buy experience, and he’s good on the breakdown,” Kolisi said.
“Pieter has been carrying very well and tackling well, and I have to make sure I put in the tackles. Breakdown is Flo’s speciality, and obviously the link between forwards and backs.”
A 50 000-capacity crowd is expected at Loftus Versfeld, and the Boks will aim to reward them with a first victory over the All Blacks at the venue since unity.
“We’ve definitely felt (the support), and it makes such a huge difference. We understand people were hurting after the two losses, and we also feel how tough it was,” Kolisi said.
“For people to come out at PE last week was really special – the whole game, the vibe was amazing, and we could feel it.
“We know it is going to be a physical game. It’s a big game – you can feel it outside, people are excited for the game, especially the people of South Africa.
“We know what we are – we are sixth in the world, and want to get better each week. We will never get ahead of ourselves.
“Obviously we want to win, but we are not score-driven – have we improved? We keep each other humble.”