Coach Rassie Erasmus says the Bok players have to be at their best to get the desired result against Italy in Shizuoka on Friday because it will be a defining Test.
The teams have met 14 times before with South Africa winning 13, but that solitary defeat in Florence in 2016 had 10 players who will feature in this crucial upcoming World Cup encounter.
The Springboks must win to have any hopes of qualifying for the quarter-finals.
‘It’s a 23-player game these days and the players who come on will be expected to contribute almost as much in game time as those who start among the front rowers. But for this game we are asking the players we have chosen to start to set the tone,’ he explained.
‘Italy have had their eyes on this match for a couple of years and that means we have to be at our absolute best if we are to beat them – we are at the stage already where there are no second chances. That’s a message we have been emphasising to the players this week.’
Erasmus’ decision to have only two backs on the bench was an option he believed the team had the resources to manage.
‘We have versatile players in the backs who can cover a number of positions and we have planned for different scenarios,’ he said.