And the Ospreys prop has hailed Wales coach Warren Gatland's work towards breaking down any mental barriers that might have existed against the southern hemisphere heavyweights.
Wales go into Sunday's World Cup showdown with the Springboks after suffering three successive narrow defeats against them at the Millennium Stadium.
Although South Africa won the lot, their total aggregate victory margin was just 12 points, and Wales were left rueing the fact they squandered big leads in two of those Tests.
"We've been disappointed a few times we've played against them, especially in Cardiff. We pushed them hard," recalled 70 times-capped tighthead Jones.
"Until half-time last November, we were totally dominant, and they brought on one of their flankers (Willem Alberts) and he changed the game. He was a hell of a lump.
"When I first started playing, if we got within four or five points of South Africa, the champagne would be going in the changing room and we would be chuffed to bits.
"Not so much any more, we are disappointed. 'Gats' has installed a mentality that we can beat them. And when we do, I think we will push on a bit.
"It is something he has pushed into us, things like 'is anyone working as hard as us on the training field and in the gym?' We worked particularly hard during our summer training camps in Poland."
It does not look as though Jones will be renewing any rivalry with Springboks lock Bakkies Botha on Sunday, though.
Botha was cited and received a two-week ban for a dangerous charge on Jones during the titanic second Test between South Africa and the British and Irish Lions in Pretoria two years ago.
It left Jones with a dislocated shoulder, although the Welshman subsequently said he did not feel Botha, one of the world game's renowned hard men, should have been suspended.
Botha is now injured, fighting what appears to be a losing battle to shake off an Achilles' problem in time for the Wales encounter.
And it has also emerged that Botha's second-row partner Victor Matfield - they boast 181 caps between them - has not taken a full part in training due to a hamstring niggle.
"We are still rehabilitating it," said Matfield. "We will have a look on Friday, but we believe I will be ready to play.
"I don't know if he (Botha) will be ready. But hopefully, he will be ready for next week. He's training hard in the gym, so I think they are making a call on him on Friday as well."
Jones added: "They've got players who can come in, but Bakkies is a big part of the team. He is a world-class player.
"It will be a blow if he is out, but they will be able to cope with it.
"I've played against them quite a few times, and they have a very good pack. Whoever they pick will be pretty formidable.
"It is probably one of the bigger games this weekend. It's a big occasion, one that we have waited for and trained hard for.
"When the South Africans are revved up for the game, they can be pretty formidable. The Lions Test series showed that.
"I watched the South Africa versus New Zealand game recently, and their front-row did a bit of a number on the All Blacks."
Wales continued their preparations today for a first World Cup meeting with the Springboks, and they cannot afford to go into their shells during a game that will play a key part in determining Pool D's final outcome.
"From my perspective, we are going to need to score two or three tries if we're going to win the game," said Wales attack coach Rob Howley.
"When we create opportunities we have to make them count because this South African side works tirelessly off the ball, particularly in defence."
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