Johannesburg - For Rassie Erasmus, the psychological value of a win against Wales this coming weekend would be massive, especially in the context of the Rugby World Cup.
According to SuperSport.com, Erasmus dubbed Warren Gatland’s side “the silent assassins” for moving confidently under the radar to an eight-game winning streak last week with their fifty point drubbing of Tonga, and he knows all too well how dangerous the Welsh can be.
Under Gatland, the Welsh have transformed themselves into a tough side to beat, based on an exceptional defensive system and a game plan that uses size and speed on the outside to subdue opposition.
It is no wonder that they have had little possession in many of the eight games they’ve won, but have come out on top through sheer ingenuity and determination.
And that’s the point for Erasmus - there will be a lot to prove in terms of character and passion to win another test away from home and all indications are that he will be using the same team as beat Scotland last weekend. This means a chance to gain momentum and finish the tour off on a high, with the only likely change set to be the return of Eben Etzebeth if he passes a fitness test.
Erasmus will have more than an inkling of revenge after losing his first game against the Welsh in Washington - a game that was strange enough to warrant the question why it was played at all? But it was a loss that started off his career as Springbok coach and one he will desperately want to overcome if he is to finish the year off on a high note and conclude the tour as a success.
The fact the Boks haven’t beaten Wales in four Tests is a sword hanging over the side as well, and if Erasmus and co do manage an away victory this weekend, they will have beaten everyone bar Ireland and will enter the shortened 2019 season a lot stronger and happier than they were when the teams last met in Washington earlier this year.
Erasmus has been spreading it thick, praising Wales and talking of this Test to be the toughest. In a way he is right, as normally the last test in terms of fatigue and motivation is the toughest to coach, and Wales will be up for the game, looking for another Southern Hemisphere scalp.
“Although we lost the one against England, in my opinion and I'm not just saying it, I think we are ending with the toughest one of the four this tour," he stressed.
"We are desperate to stay on the winning way so it will be really physical and then, I think a really tactical game
"If we manage to beat Wales this weekend the only team we won't have beaten is Ireland.
"We played Wales in Washington in that June friendly, if you can call a test match friendly, but it was a weird game.
"We travelled over on the Wednesday and gave players a chance while they also played what was like a B side."We don't really want to judge much on that but the way they have been playing, they have been beating proper teams and they are on a great run.
"They gave Scotland a comfortable beating and beat Australia, who we play regularly.
"The way they manage the game is a typical northern hemisphere. Warren Gatland really understands the technical and tactical side,” said Erasmus.
While the Boks may have not been spectacular for long periods of time on this tour, their character, and the way they ground out wins against France and Scotland really showed the intent to win and will be massive allies for them this weekend in Cardiff.
But they will also know they need to crack a tough defensive system, and use the confidence they gained over the last fortnight to reverse a damaging trend in games against the Welsh.
If they do, it will be one step closer to Erasmus’ goal. If not, a 50% return on tour will leave supporters with more questions lingering than answers.
Read the story onSuperSport.com