All Black legend Sean Fitzpatrick said on Friday that the result of Saturday's Test between the Springboks and the All Blacks in Port Elizabeth is of paramount importance if the South Africans wish to head to the World Cup New Zealand in the right frame of mind.
"They played okay last week and got beaten by Australia, but this game on Saturday is crucial for South Africa in my eyes," said Fitzpatrick.
"They need to win to get some momentum going forward and they need game time while some of their key guys need to step up."
The former All Black skipper's view is shared by most Springbok supporters who will be even more concerned if their team does not get the better of a second string New Zealand squad.
The All Blacks will be without their regular captain, Richie McCaw, their enforcer, Brad Thorn and flyhalf Dan Carter.
Fullback Mills Muliaina, centres Ma'a Nonu and Conrad Smith, prop Owen Franks, wing Sitiveni Sivivatu and flank Kieran Read were all wrapped in cotton wool ahead of the South African leg of the Tri-Nations.
Fitzpatrick said it was important for men like Colin Slade and Israel Dagg to show their ability at Test level, should one of the long serving stalwarts get injured during the World Cup.
As far as preparations for rugby's ultimate prize is concerned, Fitzpatrick said the New Zealanders were being mentored by the man who he feels is currently the best coach in the world and that McCaw is also one of the best leaders around.
He would, however, not go as far as saying that Tri-Nations form could be translated into World Cup success.
"They [the Springboks] have gone about their preparation differently than say New Zealand has.
"New Zealand has used the Tri-Nations as a real stepping stone for the World Cup where the Boks haven't used that," he said.
But one of the most feared front row forwards to ever grace the field would not say that the Springboks are not serious contenders to win the title in October.
"I think they have a huge amount of experience and no-one is going to write the Boks off with the experience they have," he said.
Should the Springboks and the All Blacks win all their pool matches at the World Cup and progress past the quarter-finals, a semifinal on October 16 in Auckland will be the next time they face each other with Port Elizabeth the final mental reference point for the players.
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