John Smit is hoping to celebrate what is expected to be his 50th game as Springbok skipper against Wales in Bloemfontein on Saturday with a morale boosting win for the World Cup holders.
The 75-times capped Smit has returned from ASM Clermont-Auvergne to lead the world champions into their first Test at home since they re-captured the Webb Ellis Trophy in Paris last year.
And the man who followed in the footsteps of Francois Pienaar in lifting the famous trophy is viewing the world champions' clash with the reigning Six Nations champions as something of a new start.
"It feels like my debut over again. It's exciting when you get to start all over and it's also exciting to have new leadership, but with the same mission," said Smit.
Having spent the rest of the season in France at Clermont since steering the Springboks to their World Cup victory over England, Smit is heading back to South Africa on a full-time basis at the end of June.
Having first led the Springboks against Georgia in the 2003 World Cup, Smit took up the role permanently against Ireland four years at the same Bloemfontein venue at which he hopes to provide new coach Peter de Villiers with a winning start to his reign.
The two men will be hoping to plot a new era in Springbok history, and their short term goals will be a successful Tri-Nations campaign this year and a revenge mission against the British & Irish Lions next year.
Only Percy Montgomery remains from the Springbok side which lost the 1997 series 2-1 against Martin Johnson's side on the Lions' last visit to South Africa. And Smit and de Villiers know that if they are to make a step up from the World Cup triumph then beating the Lions is a must.
Having said he believes the world champions can improve by some 40% before the 2009 Lions land, de Villiers was encouraged by the intensity of the first training session his 26-man squad undertook in Bloemfontein.
"I'm more at ease with myself after watching what the guys did at training. The guys ran out of breath there for a while and we thought they wouldn't make it," he said.
"The intensity won't be like that the whole week, though, because we still have a Test match to play, so we'll ease it off a bit as the week progresses to ensure the guys are fresh for Saturday."
De Villiers is expected to hand out new caps to the Stormers forwards duo of Brian Mujati and Andries Bekker on Saturday and will be looking for a solid platform from which to launch an expansive style of play.
"I want the guys to run the ball, but if you want to play any expansive game, you have to control the first phases. So emphasis will be on controlling scrums, line-outs and kick-offs and get front-foot ball to the backs," said de Villiers.
"Expansive rugby means you don't have to run each and every ball you get. It means that your reaction speed must be quicker, but you do need to control the tight phases of the game first.
"Wales will kick the ball a lot more with Stephen Jones at outside half and they have some big men in the centre."