The last thing you want is to play a bad match and then dwell on that
Springbok captain Jean de Villiers has called for his team to 'leave everything out there' in their final Test of the year in Paris.
Coach Heyneke Meyer has picked a strong team for what should be a tough encounter at the Stade de France, and De Villiers expects to see total commitment as they look to end the year on a high.
“The fact that it's the last game we'll play this year gives us the opportunity to really just leave everything out there, to put up a performance that can make us have good holidays in December.
“The last thing you want is to play a bad match and then dwell on that for the next six months until the next Test match, so we want to play a good match.”
Although it is the last match the Springboks will play this year, having won nine out of the 11 they've played so far, De Villiers says this is not being seen as the culmination of anything.
“I don't think we're seeing it as that, we're seeing it as the next game to form part of the progression of the team and to improve as a team,” he said.
“It's definitely not the end for us, it's the beginning of the rest of the journey," he added.
Quite apart from the challenge the French team are expected to pose to the Springboks, De Villiers says playing in near freezing temperatures on Saturday night will in itself be a test.
Plus there is the aspect of not playing France particularly often – they have only met three times since 2005.
“We don't play them often and we haven't won here for a very long time, that's the reality and something we'd like to test ourselves against,” added the captain.
“It's different conditions, a different time of day we're playing and a different team, so it's a nice test for the boys.”
South Africa won comfortably 42-17 in Cape Town the last time the side's met but before that they had lost three in a row and Les Bleus have actually claimed victory in five of the last eight meetings – although in the overall record South Africa lead 21-11 with six draws.
South Africa have not won in France since a crushing 52-10 success at the Parc des Princes in 1997, and it is the desire to put that statistic to bed that is getting the current crop fired up.
Yet dwelling on defeats is not part of the pep talk.
“That's not the route we'll be going from a motivation point of view, we'll either be talking about the victory we could achieve (or) how great it would be to beat the French in France for first time in 16 years,” said De Villiers.
“It was a great game 16 years ago when South Africa did beat them and we're looking to put up a good performance tomorrow as well.”
Whatever the outcome, South Africa are bracing themselves for a bruising encounter.
“It will be physical, I didn't play the last game we played in France in Toulouse (a 26-13 defeat) and also the last time we played them in South Africa I played off the bench.
“The French will challenge you in different ways, being physical will be one of those. Set phases will be important for us, they'll put pressure on the team there.
“The physical battle is always important for us as a Springbok team, we want to get dominance and it will be a good test for the boys.”