Cape Town - Former Springbok captain Jean de Villiers does not think the Boks will beat the All Blacks at Newlands on Saturday, but he reckons they will leave the fixture with their pride very much intact.
De Villiers was speaking in Cape Town at a Laureus Sports for Good Foundation breakfast, and when he was asked to give his predictions for this weekend's clash he answered with both his head and his heart.
The Boks, beaten just once in 2017, were hammered 57-0 by the All Blacks three weekends ago in Albany in what was the worst result in Springbok history.
That scoreline, and the fact that the Boks have shipped 23 tries while scoring just one in their last three fixtures against the world champions, has left South Africans fearing the worst ahead of the Cape Town clash.
De Villiers, an ambassador for Laureus, believes the Springboks will be better than they were in Albany.
"It will be tough for South Africa. You don't just come back from a 57-0 loss and come back to South Africa and expect the team to win," De Villiers said.
"A lot will have to change. The All Blacks are better than us at the moment in terms of the way that they have been playing, the structures they have in place, the results that we've seen ... but our team is a team on the up."
De Villiers there has been "significant improvement" in the Bok set-up this year, but he still didn't think they would emerge with the win.
"We'll need a little bit of luck to win this one," he said.
"I've got no doubt about the motivation and commitment.
"Hopefully we can push them close. If I vote with my heart, obviously I'd love the Boks to win, but if you look at all the facts it will be very difficult against the best team in the world that is still motivated to beat South Africa every time they play them.
"Will we win? I don't know. Will we walk off with pride? I think so."
Kick-off on Saturday is at 17:05.