Fourie du Preez (Gallo Images)
London - There may come a time when South Africa's humiliating Rugby World Cup loss to Japan is viewed as a blessing in disguise, even if the Springboks are not quite ready to admit that yet.
The 34-32 defeat in their tournament opener shook the team to its core and left South Africa under immense pressure just to get out of Pool B.
Stand-in captain Fourie du Preez has admitted that the team had been looking too far down the road rather than focusing on their most immediate tasks and that defeat shook off any lingering complacency there may have been in the squad.
Having now secured a quarter-final against either Wales or Australia on October 17, scrumhalf Du Preez says the Boks are not thinking beyond next week.
"We can't look further than the quarter-final. That was one of our mistakes with the Japan game and we learnt a hard lesson from it," Du Preez told reporters.
"All our focus will be on our next game, whoever that will be. We will need to be a lot better, and we know that, but it is a process."
Defeat for Australia in Saturday's Pool A decider against Wales would give the Boks a chance to avenge their 11-9 loss to the Wallabies in the 2011 quarter-finals.
That match is best remembered in South Africa for the refereeing of New Zealander Bryce Lawrence, who later apologised for his performance, highlighting the pitfalls than can trip up a side on any given day.
Du Preez accepts that South Africa can only look after their own game but suggests they are now a little wiser when it comes to the vagaries of match officials.
"On the day, we need to adapt to the referee; set-pieces have to work and defence has to work," he said.
"It has for the last three games. Our ball carriers are getting over the advantage line and we are doing better in terms of finishing. All those aspects must be firing on the day, and the decision-making must be better.
"We have got older heads, so there is no reason why we can't do it."