South Africa fullback Damian Willemse says his side will have to cut their error count or face being punished by clinical Australia and New Zealand in their remaining Rugby Championship matches later this month.
The Springboks are coming off a series win against the British & Irish Lions and two victories over Argentina at the start of the Rugby Championship, where they were not punished by either opponent for what was at times sloppy play with ball in hand and under high kicks.
But Willemse believes they will not be so lucky Down Under, where their rivals have more in their armoury to take advantage of mistakes.
"The margins are small, if you do make a mistake, even just a small one, it will be five or seven points against you," Willemse told reporters on Friday.
"Especially against teams like Australia and New Zealand, who have a lot of skilful players and a lot of armour in their backline.
"It is all about playing clever and smart against good opposition. It is about not making as many errors from the back and by the key decision makers."
The Boks’ less expansive game-plan and forward-based strategy will meet the more free-flowing Wallabies and All Blacks in a fascinating clash of styles, but Willemse, who is in the squad to play at fullback or inside centre, says it is nonsense to underestimate the potency of the South African backline.
"We have a specific plan around how we want to win test matches, especially us as fullbacks," he said. "It is about having everybody in the right place where we can force pressure and turn the ball over, and make our wingers get into the game and score tries.
"I have been enjoying the challenge, the coaches are really helping me develop my skill set, especially under the high balls and some game management stuff. There is a clear role for me about what I have to do in the team."
Willemse is likely to be on the bench when the Boks take on Australia at Gold Coast on Sept. 12.
(Reporting by Nick Said; Editing by Toby Davis)