Bismarck du Plessis (Gallo Images)
Eastbourne - South Africa have every chance to win the Rugby World Cup even if few outside their camp fancy their credentials, hooker Bismarck du Plessis said on Tuesday.
Du Plessis, one of the survivors of the Springboks' 2007 World Cup winning side, said South Africa had the depth of playing talent to emerge victorious at the end of next month despite their results in the build-up being far from convincing.
"Not a lot is expected of us but we as a team have great expectations. We trained really hard and we give ourselves a chance," he told a news conference, just days before the tournament kicks off in England.
"We've got a great set of players who can play in a lot of different positions; players who can play at any stage and offer a good mix of youth and experience.
"Those who are playing their first World Cup can just play their game and the experienced guys will actually put us in the right areas."
Du Plessis, with 73 caps, is among nine players with the experience of winning the World Cup eight years ago, a factor he said must not be overlooked.
"When I was in my first World Cup, I had the privilege of experienced players with me," he added.
"I tried to feed off them, I asked them what I could expect and what it felt like? Normally you play three or four Tests and then go back to Super Rugby or your Premiership club but here you got to play seven games.
"There is quite a short turnaround for us after the end of the pool stage and then the pressure really toughens up and the screws turn tighter every time and the space gets smaller.
"I think experienced players have been in that situation before where you really have to perform under pressure."
Asked whether he preferred being a favourite or an underdog, the 31-year-old said: "I just prefer playing rugby to be honest with you.
"I'm not a guy who reads much into what the media says or what people's opinions are. I look to the opinions of my fellow team-mates."