Cape Town - Former Italy scrumhalf Tobie Botes does not expect his former team to upset the Springboks in Florence on Saturday.
The Springboks have had a torrid year under Allister Coetzee as coach, losing six out of 10 Tests.
The team suffered a first ever home defeat to Ireland, lost away for the first time to Argentina and also got humiliated in a record 57-15 defeat to the All Blacks in Durban.
Last week saw them lose 37-21 to England at Twickenham - their first defeat to those foes in a decade.
This week they face Italy, ranked 13th in the world and fresh off a 68-10 drubbing against the Al Blacks.
South African-born Botes, who played 22 Tests for the Azzurri between 2012 and 2014, feels there will be no hope for Coetzee if his team loses on Saturday.
“Italy have lost several experienced players and have a new coach (Conor O’Shea). They won’t get a better chance to upset the Springboks, but are themselves in a transition period. But honestly, if the Boks lose on Saturday, there will be no hope left,” Botes told Netwerk24.
Botes, who played locally for Boland, Griquas, Free State and the EP Kings, believes Italy will be competitive for an hour.
“The Boks will be too strong in the final 20 minutes. Both teams lack confidence and the last thing the Boks can afford is to give Italy hope. Italy will believe they can cause an upset and it will be important for the Springboks to start well and take control early.”