The Springboks will have one last chance to restore some pride in the jersey ahead of the World Cup when they take on an under-strength All Blacks team on Saturday and captain John Smit admitted that his team are desperate for victory.
Defeat to the All Blacks in Port Elizabeth will represent a first-ever Tri-Nations duck for the world champions and is the last opportunity for them to salvage some sort of pride before they leave to defend their crown in less than a month's time.
After the loss to the Wallabies in Durban at the weekend, Smit said that he understands the frustration of the fans that are yet to witness their team win a game this year and pledged that they would be going all out to ensure victory this weekend.
He commented: "The fans have got every right to be disillusioned but if anything they must know that we will be working night and day to make sure that we rectify that in a week's time - we need a good result.
"We need to get ourselves in a positive frame of mind getting on to the aeroplane, we don't want to be a team that says ‘judge us on our World Cup' we need to start playing some rugby before we get there," added Smit.
The Bok skipper was confident that his charges would be better off for the experience of losing at home as they gained some valuable match fitness and identified areas of weakness ahead of their World Cup defence.
"We didn't finish nicely, we didn't convert our points so there is a lot to learn and a lot to feel disappointed about but they must feel the bumps and bruises, get that match hardness and make sure that we step it up against the All Blacks and make sure that we improve next week," he said.
Smit said that despite the blow to his side's self-belief, the true test of their character would be whether they can learn from the defeat and become a stronger combination as a result.
He explained: "When you lose a Test there is always a bit of doubt, but it is how you bounce back and these guys have bounced back a few times and there needs to be a little bit more bouncing back coming into this next weekend."
Bok coach Peter de Villiers said that he is not fazed by the fact that the All Blacks have left some of their key players in New Zealand and explained that the focus would be on ensuring that his team takes a step up from their frustrating performance against Australia.
He said: "We will focus on what we want to do, we can't dictate who they will bring and who they want to play. We will focus on our job, there are one or two things that we need to go and work on and those are the things that are very important for us.
"I know that we will be better prepared, not on our own stuff, but game-fitness wise," added the Bok coach.
By Michael de Vries, in Durban
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