Cape Town - Former Springbok captain Corne Krige believes the hype surrounding the 2019 World Cup squad is justified.
The Boks went down 23-13 to the defending champion All Blacks in their opening match of this year's tournament last weekend, but the South African rugby public remains largely optimistic about their side's chances of lifting a third Webb Ellis Cup in Japan.
Coach Rassie Erasmus and his men are expected to register wins over Namibia, Italy and then Canada to secure second spot in their pool and a likely quarter-final against Ireland.
First up is a clash against their southern African neighbours, Namibia, in Toyota on Saturday.
Krige, who captained the Boks to a 29-9 quarter-final defeat against the All Blacks at the 2003 World Cup, watched closely last weekend as the South Africans fell short against the 'old foe' and he saw enough from that performance to stay on board with a possible path to a final in Tokyo on November 2.
"A lot of people say they played badly against New Zealand and I don't necessarily agree with that," Krige told Sport24 as an ambassador at a Laureus Sport for Good function in Cape Town on Thursday.
"One or two very special moments by the All Blacks gave them that quick lead and if (Handre) Pollard hadn't hit the post, it would have been 6-0 to the Boks.
"With momentum on our side I think it would have been a different ball game.
"I'm not too concerned."
Turning his attention to the Namibia match specifically, Krige acknowledged that it was a slight risk playing hooker Schalk Brits out of position at No 8.
Brits will captain the Boks on the day while Siya Kolisi, short on game time after recovering from a serious knee injury, starts from the bench.
"I think Rassie is trying to get Siya to play, but under good pressure against good teams," Krige said.
"I think that's how Rassie is thinking ... he doesn't want to lose him for games later on.
"There is a bit of a risk (playing Brits at No 8), but if you want to take a risk then you take it against Namibia rather than against Italy.
"He (Erasmus) is resting all his key players and he will play his full strength team against Italy."
Kick-off on Saturday is at 11:45 (SA time).
15 Johan Tromp, 14 Chad Plato, 13 JC Greyling, 12 Peter John Walters, 11 Lesley Klim, 10 Cliven Loubser, 9 Eugene Jantjies, 8 Adriaan Booysen, 7 Muharua Katjijeko, 6 Thomasau Forbes, 5 Tjiuee Uanivi (captain), 4 Johan Retief, 3 AJ de Klerk, 2 Louis van der Westhuizen, 1 Desiderius Sethie
Substitutes: 16 Obert Nortje, 17 Andre Rademeyer, 18 Johannes Coetzee, 19 Prince Gaoseb, 20 Janco Venter, 21 Wian Conradie, 22 Helarius Axasman Kisting, 23 Johan Deysel
15 Warrick Gelant, 14 Sbu Nkosi, 13 Lukhanyo Am, 12 Frans Steyn, 11 Makazole Mapimpi, 10 Elton Jantjies, 9 Herschel Jantjies, 8 Schalk Brits (captain), 7 Kwagga Smith, 6 Francois Louw, 5 Lood de Jager, 4 RG Snyman, 3 Vincent Koch, 2 Bongi Mbonambi, 1 Tendai Mtawarira
Substitutes: 16 Steven Kitshoff, 17 Thomas du Toit, 18 Eben Etzebeth, 19 Siya Kolisi, 20 Franco Mostert, 21 Cobus Reinach, 22 Damian de Allende, 23 Cheslin Kolbe