- Rassie Erasmus has stressed the importance of the Scotland Test for the Springboks at the Rugby World Cup in France.
- Erasmus feels too much emphasis is being placed on South Africa's game against world No 1 Ireland.
- Erasmus adds that if they beat Scotland in their opening game, they'll have "a little more breathing space in the rest of the pool".
SA Rugby's director of rugby, Rassie Erasmus, has warned that Scotland should not be underestimated as the Springboks plot to defend their World Cup title in France later this year.
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The Boks will feature in Pool B alongside the Scots, Ireland, Tonga and Romania.
A lot of emphasis has been placed on South Africa's fixture against world No 1 Ireland in Paris on 23 September, but Erasmus has reminded of the threats posed by fifth-ranked Scotland.
The Boks will open their World Cup campaign against Scotland in Marseille on 10 September. They also play Romania in Bordeaux on 17 September and Tonga in Marseille on 1 October.
"All of us, South Africans, are putting our heads too far ahead ... common sense tells you that you must plan well and play really well - in our second (against Romania) and last (against Tonga) pool games - because there are players there that can play.
"But, we face Scotland in the first match. If we beat Scotland, [then] we've got a little more breathing space in the rest of the pool," Erasmus told reporters at SARU House in Cape Town on Thursday.
The Boks lost their opening match to New Zealand in the 2019 World Cup in Japan, before going on to win the title.
But Erasmus said he wanted to avoid a similar scenario and added that beating Scotland would take some pressure off heading into the Ireland game.
"Everybody's talking Ireland, Ireland, Ireland, Ireland ... [but] people are underestimating the importance of the Scotland game. Scotland will probably be saying: 'Why are you guys not talking about us?'
"They have seven or eight South African-born players in their team. Scotland and Ireland play each other in the last round of pool matches.
"[The game against] Ireland is important, and yes, they are going to be big. But the Scottish Test match, in my opinion, is probably the biggest Test match for us currently."
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The Boks will hold a camp in Durban next week, before they begin their preparations for the Rugby Championship at a training camp in Pretoria from 12-30 June.
In a shortened Rugby Championship, South Africa will host Australia (Loftus Versfeld, 8 July) and Argentina (Ellis Park, 29 July) and face New Zealand away from home (Auckland, 15 July).
The Boks will also play a warm-up match against Argentina in Buenos Aires (5 August), before wrapping up their World Cup preparation with games against Wales in Cardiff (19 August) and New Zealand in London (25 August).
South Africa's 33-man squad for the World Cup will be named on 8 August.
Springbok 2023 fixtures:
Saturday, 8 July - Springboks v Australia (Loftus Versfeld, Pretoria)
Saturday, 15 July - Springboks v New Zealand (Mount Smart Stadium, Auckland)
Saturday, 29 July - Springboks v Argentina (Ellis Park, Johannesburg)
RWC warm-up fixtures:
Saturday, 5 August - Springboks v Argentina (Velez Sarsfield, Buenos Aires)
Saturday, 19 August - Springboks v Wales (Principality Stadium, Cardiff)
Friday, 25 August - Springboks v New Zealand (Twickenham, London)
Sunday, 10 September - Springboks v Scotland (Stade Marseille, Marseille)
Sunday, 17 September - Springboks v Romania (Stade de Bordeaux, Bordeaux)
Saturday, 23 September - Springboks v Ireland (Stade de France, Paris)
Sunday, 1 October - Springboks v Tonga (Stade Marseille, Marseille)
Weekend of 14/15 October - Quarter-finals
Weekend of 21/22 October - Semi-finals
Saturday, 28 October - Final