The players know what they are in for that when they wear the Green and Gold they need to put their bodies on the line
Heyneke Meyer's biggest obstacle ahead of the Rugby Championship is managing the effects of the non-stop rugby rodeo.
With an unprecedented amount of rugby scheduled to be played the injury toll was always going to be key in Meyer's first year as coach, but the extraordinary Super Rugby journey of the Sharks has made things even more tricky for the Bok mentor.
Meyer has taken charge of a squad with varying levels of fitness, and while preparing for the Rugby Championship in such a short period of time was always going to be a challenge the way that he reacts to this issue could be pivotal to the team's fortunes.
The Bok coach made it clear that he is concerned about the conditioning of the players when addressing the media after team doctor Craig Roberts gave his medical report on Monday.
Meyer said that he had hoped to spend this week working on whipping the squad into shape after the Super Rugby rollercoaster.
"I thought that this week we could really get stuck in because a lot of the guys have been managed over the last month in the very tough competition and they didn't do a lot of fitness because it was more a question of keeping them fit so they lost that fitness and then some of the teams were off for two or three weeks so I am not happy with the fitness levels I really want to increase the fitness levels.
"This is not to say that the franchises didn't do their work, there is nothing they could have done so I don't want to say that they didn't keep their guys fit.
"I thought this was the only week where we could really train hard and get the guys into a pattern and then next week could be a light week," he said.
This was not to be however as the unique plight of the Sharks players and further injuries have left Meyer unable to implement his original plans and worryingly distracted ahead of the competition.
The Bok coach acknowledged that injuries were always going to be a challenge, but he is clearly concerned about the lack of depth in certain areas with senior players increasingly rare at the highest level.
"We knew it was coming with the long season and a tough Super Rugby campaign so it is a pity but it is part of the game and we just need to focus and be spot on with the selections.
"There are also a lot of great players overseas so our depth isn't what it used to be but I have still got a lot of confidence in the guys that are playing at the moment," he said.
Meyer said that whilst the Sharks' Super Rugby odyssey has made life more difficult for him, he was delighted with their effort and the psychological advantage it could hand his side overseas.
"So suddenly we have had to change the whole planning of the week and we have to manage the Sharks through this week which is a little bit frustrating, but again they have gained a few things playing overseas.
"We will see what sort of condition they are in when they come back and I think what we will do is manage each player differently.
"I am very proud of the Sharks and I think if you can take that kind of mental attitude into the Springbok side the guys know now that they can win overseas.
"They had a tough challenge to win away and then come back and win at Newlands as well so hopefully they will take that mental attitude into the away games specifically," he said.
Meyer expressed further concern at the lack of options at his disposal in certain areas, but maintained that commitment and determination will be non-negotiable in his side.
"If you look at all the guys that are injured at the moment there are a lot of great players injured and a lot of our best players have moved overseas, but is saying that there is a lot of character in the camp.
"If you wear the Green and Gold you need to step up to represent your country so I have got confidence in the guys that are there who up until now have shown that they are world class," he said.
The injury situation has put Meyer under considerable pressure, and he will need to show the same amount of composure in decision-making over the next few weeks as he expects of his players on the field.
If the Springboks are to challenge New Zealand and Australia away from home this season then they cannot afford to adopt a mentality that they are victims of overwhelming odds.
The Sharks did not achieve the improbable by feeling sorry for themselves and Meyer knows that complaining about the issue is not going to help solve the problem.
"I don't want the players to use it as an excuse, it is the same for other teams as well and we need to be mentally tough, but I also believe that the players and their health always come first and the guys will be managed individually.
"We need to get on with it and the players know what they are in for that when they wear the Green and Gold they need to put their bodies on the line," he said.
By Michael de Vries