The Springboks opened their Tri Nations campaign with a disappointing 39-20 defeat to Australia last weekend and produced a display which highlighted the lack of experience in the squad.
South Africa opted to leave a number of their first-choice players at home citing an array of injuries, although most of them are expected to be fit for the World Cup, and Smit admits that has brought a number of challenges for him in his role as skipper.
"It has been quite a different kind of tour for me and one that I haven't been used to for quite some time, with the guys that have been coming along on the journey with me over the years," he said.
"This time around the challenges have been far larger, in terms of the guys I'm with.
"My biggest challenge has been to get the guys to keep renewing their own self belief of what they can do and what got them here against the continual struggle of how many people are telling them they don't have that ability.
"With all that's been written and said, it's very difficult to keep renewing that belief in themselves."
Smit admits the performance against the Wallabies in Sydney was below-par, adding: "We were hoping to come here in slightly better spirits, but having performed so poorly in the things we trained so hard on, it was a defeat to digest.
"That was pretty tough for us, so the boys are relieved to get here and have another chance to get things right."
New Zealand coach Graham Henry has backed full-back Cory Jane to inflict more misery on the tourists at Westpac Stadium in Wellington.
Jane, back in the squad after being left out of the initial party for the Tri Nations, endured a disappointing Super 15 but has impressed Henry in training.
The former Wales coach said: "We know what he's done before and we'd like to see him nail it.
"He knows he's not going to get too many opportunities to do that and this is a big one for him.
"Cory's played some good Test match rugby, he's been a very good All Black. But he's had a disappointing Super 15 for a number of reasons, injury, his form hasn't been too good, but he's got a chance."
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The Lions are ready to get their Australia tour underway. They arrive in Perth on Monday.
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