Heyneke Meyer says the Springboks need to lift their game if they're to maintain their unbeaten run under his guidance during the November Tests.
The Boks have yet to lose a game in the northern hemisphere since Meyer took over as head coach in 2012. Their last defeat on an end-of-year tour came at Murrayfield in 2010 as Dan Parks ended the Boks hope of a Grand Slam in a 21-17 victory for the Scots.
While the temptation will be to test out some new faces during the matches against Italy and a Wales team weakened by withdrawals, Meyer is wary of experimenting unnecessarily.
'We’ve lost to lesser teams in the past, so Italy will be tough and Wales will be a tough challenge with a new look side,' said Meyer at a press conference on Wednesday. 'I’m confident but realistic as well. It will be tough to win all four, we’ve already had an unbelievable season. It is our goal. We’re going to have to be better than in the Rugby Championship if we are going to win all four.
'Before next year’s World Cup there are only four Test matches, as there are no incoming tours. This is the last opportunity we have to look at every single player.
'There are four games, and in the last game we will not have our overseas-based players available, so we will have to fly in one or two more positions. A lot of the positions we’ve covered is in positions we may need guys to play. The main thing is that there isn’t a big difference between the players and this is the last chance to work with them.'
The Boks begin their tour with a tough match against the Six Nations champions, Ireland, at the Aviva Stadium. While many would've singled out the match against England at Twickenham as the most crucial in the tour – given the likelihood of a World Cup showdown there next year – the match against Ireland has proven a stumbling block for many a Bok team in the past.
'We have a proud record and we haven’t lost a game there [since Meyer took charge],' said the coach. 'But we have a proud record and this is probably the toughest tour we have faced to the northern hemisphere. I truly believe Ireland are an unbelievable team, they were unlucky not to beat the All Blacks last year.
'They’ve got a great coaching staff, a lot of in-form players and their defence is great. They’ve got a good kicking game in those conditions. England are a tough team to play. In the last four games, we’ve won three by a few points and drawn one. They will always be tough.
'We want to go on from where we left off. We had a great finish to the Rugby Championship, but a week is a long time for an international coach. We will probably go with more or less the same team, perhaps one or two small changes, but we will have to have some sort of continuity going into the first Test match.'
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