Johannesburg - Springbok No 8 Duane Vermeulen says the team is motivated to prove its worth against the All Blacks this weekend.
In an interview with the MyPlayers website, Vermeulen described the Springboks' main goal loud and clear: "We want to be recognised as the best team in the world. In order to achieve that, we need to beat the All Blacks and Wallabies."
South Africa came close during their Australasian tour in the Rugby Championship, but unfortunately fell short.
Against the Wallabies in Perth, the hosts scored a late try to steal a 24-23 win, while against the All Blacks in Wellington, the Springboks failed to take their opportunities at the death as they went down 14-10.
The Springboks returned to winning ways last weekend when they beat the Wallabies 28-10 at Newlands. South Africa thrived during the final 10 minutes, scoring three tries to pick up 20 points for an impressive victory.
This will create plenty of confidence heading into the epic battle against the All Blacks in Johannesburg on Saturday. Vermuelen said the team will look to improve in all areas heading into the clash.
"From an overall perspective, we will be happy with our performances over the last few games," said Vermeulen. "But in a realistic view, we weren't good enough on tour as coming close doesn't count. We want to be the No 1 team in world rugby, and we need to beat the best teams to do so.
"The All Blacks are always tough opponents, so we need to be at our best when we face them in Johannesburg."
Vermeulen believes opposite number, All Blacks No 8 Kieran Read, will be one of the biggest threats when the two teams clash at Ellis Park.
"Kieran is the best No 8 in world rugby. He has a great all-round game, which makes him such a good player and sees him have a major influence on the match. He carries the ball well, tackles hard, is mobile all over the park and contributes at lineout time. It's tough to match that."
Despite Read's dominance in the No 8 jersey, Vermuelen has also been in fantastic form for the Springboks. Head coach Heyneke Meyer said the player has been struggling with a rib injury and will have to pass a series of fitness tests this week.
"I'm happy with my game this season," said Vermeulen. "I try not to over-think too much and enjoy myself on the field. When you're enjoying your time out there, things always seem to go well."
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