Cape Town - Springbok coach Rassie Erasmus believes there will be several contenders at next year’s Rugby World Cup in Japan.
Erasmus addressed reporters in Cardiff on Monday as his team prepared for their final match of the year against Wales.
The Welsh are on an eighth-match win-streak and currently occupy third spot on the official World Rugby rankings.
The Boks are fifth but Erasmus believes there’s not much to choose between the top eight nations in the world.
"Where the World Cup is going to be played in Japan it's going to be warm and humid. It won't be a southern hemisphere team that benefits from it and I don't think a northern hemisphere team will really benefit from it.
"So the playing field is pretty level. I don't think you can put your hand up and say: 'This is the four teams that are going to be in the semi-finals'.
"It's just impossible currently because it's so close and it's one or two points in it. It's great for world rugby but not always for the coaches,” Erasmus said.
Erasmus acknowledged that the two top-ranked teams - New Zealand and Ireland - would be the favourites but predicted a close affair in Japan.
"We saw what happened with Ireland and New Zealand, and we managed to beat New Zealand in a close game.
"Scotland last year almost had New Zealand and England almost had New Zealand. I really think it's an open race although obviously the favourites are New Zealand and Ireland.
"Wales is one of those teams who is hovering there, almost a silent assassin at this stage, winning eight in a row.
"We are ranked fifth, which isn't great, but I think the difference between No 3 and six is much closer than it was maybe a year ago."
Erasmus will name his side on Thursday, with Saturday’s Test scheduled for 19:20 (SA time).