Schalk Brits (Gallo Images)
London - Watching England's painful exit from the Rugby World Cup in the pool stage has served as a motivation for South Africa to avoid such misery so early in the competition, hooker Schalk Brits has said.
The Springbok hooker will be on the bench for his side's final Pool B game against the United States on Wednesday where defeat could see them booted out from the competition if other results go against them.
Brits, who has played at English club Saracens since 2009, said he has sympathy for players he counts as friends off the pitch, if enemies on it.
"We have a chat group for the Surrey boys and I told them (the England players) that I feel for them," he told reporters.
"I think the World Cup is poorer without them. I would have liked to see them doing well, though not better than us of course! They are a great bunch of players and individuals.
"But they will grow and learn out of this, it will be interesting to see what is going to happen with their coaching and the team going forward. After 1999, when they didn't do so well, they built on that and won in 2003."
Brits said watching the misery of England has brought home what it would mean for South Africa, World Cup winners in 1995 and 2007, to also exit early, a possibility raised by their shock 34-32 defeat against Japan in their opening pool game.
"If we lose another game then we could be out of the World Cup and that would be a disgrace as a South African side and a nation that is so proud about rugby to not make the playoff games, especially in the pool we have got.
"For us, (coach) Heyneke (Meyer) has been hammering the point that we are under pressure and we have our backs against the wall and every game is now a final for us. The focus is just to perform."
Brits knows many of the US players and counts among his Saracens team-mates prop Titi Lamositele, lock Hayden Smith and fullback Chris Wyles.
"They have a great work ethic and won't stop fighting," Brits added. "They work well together and put a lot of teams under pressure.
"They maybe don't have the experience yet to finish teams but they will believe they can beat us if Japan can."