South Africa will be looking to avoid a first-ever Tri Nations whitewash when they take on New Zealand tomorrow.
The Springboks host the All Blacks in Port Elizabeth having lost the reverse fixture in Wellington and been beaten twice by Australia in Sydney and Durban.
The disappointing run of results comes just two seasons after the Boks were crowned southern hemisphere kings having also secured a series success over the Lions earlier that year.
South Africa selected a largely second string team in the first two rounds of the tournament, while last week’s loss was a first run-out in several weeks for the majority of the starting line-up.
But with the World Cup looming on the horizon Fourie du Preez insists the reigning champions simply have to win.
“It would be ideal to get a win to bring hope back to the people and beating the All Blacks now would bring back a lot of the confidence just before the World Cup,” said du Preez.
“Of course it is very important for us to win. It’s hard to say that you can build during the World Cup as we play Wales in our first game and they will be the toughest match in the group phase. Then we play Samoa and Fiji, and they are not easy opponents either.
“So we do need to get a win now so that we can go into the World Cup with at least one good win behind us and use that as a start to finding momentum. I wouldn’t say this is a do or die test for us, but it is almost like that.”
Du Preez admits that while disappointed with last weeks loss, the Boks always new they faced a almost insurmountable task due to a lack of game-time.
“Things haven’t gone exactly to plan for us, but hopefully this week we can make the improvements we are looking for and perform a whole lot better,” said Du Preez.
“We knew before the game in Durban we would be rusty after two months off. It’s not an excuse, but we did expect the rust, so we weren’t too surprised.
"The game left us with a good idea of what aspects need working on before the World Cup, and there were also aspects that we were pleased with. We would rather try and look at those positives from last week and build on that.”
And the All Blacks are expecting to come up against a much-improved South Africa team.
“There was a lot of rust in the Bok game last week, which would have been expected,” said New Zealand head coach Graham Henry.
“They have that behind them now so we are expecting them to be at their best this week. We are expecting an improvement of about 15% from them in this game.”