Cape Town - New South Africa coach Rassie Erasmus hopes the three-Test series against England will help the Springboks to bury memories of their recent dismal run as they look to rediscover their winning mentality before next year's World Cup.
South Africa host England in Johannesburg, Bloemfontein and Cape Town in June, which follows a showdown with Wales in the United States on June 2.
"In an ideal world, the Boks would go through 2018 unbeaten, but that’s something very few teams achieve, so we have to be realistic and take things one step at a time. Which is exactly why our focus should only be on Wales and England," Erasmus told SA Rugby’s Springbok magazine, as quoted by SuperSport.com.
Erasmus was appointed in March to replace Allister Coetzee after a terrible two-year tenure during which the Springboks suffered a record 57-0 defeat by New Zealand, lost at home to Ireland for the first time and away to Italy and slipped to sixth in the world rankings.
He has been tasked with turning around the team's form before the 2019 World Cup in Japan.
"Since my return to South Africa, I've been around the country and I can sense great urgency among our players and coaches. We all know things have been a little disappointing for our rugby lately, but the will to improve is there and that excites me," Erasmus added.
"We also have some time before the next World Cup to ensure the Boks go to Japan with all the ammunition needed to be successful.
"We're aware that we're not given much of a chance to be successful next year in Japan, but I know we have the players and expertise to give the Boks a realistic chance to be successful at the World Cup."
Erasmus, 45, coached at Munster in Ireland before returning late last year to take up a role as Director of Rugby at SA Rugby, to which the Springboks coaching job has been added.
He hopes the England series will provide a boost for the rest of the season.
"Eddie Jones has done a wonderful job (as coach of England), just look at their record since the last World Cup," Erasmus said.
"They will provide a stern test for the Boks, but we're playing at home and this is where I believe the foundation for the rest of the season has to be laid."