South Africa will not be underestimating Fiji in Saturday’s World Cup pool D match in Wellington according to prop Gurthro Steenkamp.
The Springboks endured a tight quarter-final tussle agains the Pacific Islanders at the World Cup four years ago in France, a match which they led 20-6
But Fiji scored two tries in two minutes to level the scores with 20 minutes remaining before two late tries – and a superb try-saving tackle by JP Pietersen on Ifereimi Rawaqa – got the South Africans home 37-20.
"The biggest lessons from that game, were to play to the last minute and definitely not to underestimate them," said Steenkamp.
"If I think back to 2007 it was quite a physical game. They are very passionate guys. We know they'll bring everything to the game and we expect physicality from them."
So much of the Springboks build-up to the World Cup was focused on Wales, while many others see Samoa, following their recent win over Australia, as the next biggest threat in a difficult pool.
But hooker Bismarck du Plessis was adamant the squad was not looking beyond Saturday’s match at Wellington Regional Stadium.
"We saw at the last World Cup when you look too far ahead you can bump your head at the next step and go two or three steps back," he said.
"The last World Cup when JP tackled the guy out at the touchline we could have been out."
"I definitely think we're putting a lot of emphasis on this weekend. It's been a motto of our team that we take it game by game."
"We did put a lot of emphasis on Wales because it was our first game and we needed a good start and it was a good start for us because we won the game and that’s the most important thing."
The performances of Steenkamp and du Plessis have also highlighted the importance of having a strong bench.
Their introduction midway through the second half against Wales, plus that of Willem Alberts and Francois Hougaard, turned the game in the Springboks’ favour.
"Any tournament or any competition is won by a squad," said Steenkamp. "I believe we've got a great 30-man squad here and any man can slot in at any time."
"We're all eager to play in the World Cup and guys like Bizzie (du Plessis) and Willem, especially when they came on they made a huge difference and made a great impact."
"That is the responsibility of the bench to make sure you make a difference to the side when you come on."
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