South Africa great Schalk Burger admits he’s still haunted by the Springboks’ World Cup quarter-final loss to the Wallabies four years ago but he says they’ve heeded its lessons.
In 2011, South Africa dominated territory and possession against Australia only to go down 11-9 in an engrossing last-eight clash in Wellington, New Zealand.
Now Burger, a member of the South Africa side that won the 2007 World Cup in France, hopes there will be no repeat when the Springboks face Wales at Twickenham on Saturday.
“I suppose over a lot of bottles of red wine we have discussed that match more than any other match we have ever played,” said Burger of the the team’s exit from the last World up.
“It is one of those games that still haunts you to this day.
“If we played it again, we would win nine times out of 10. That game we played all the rugby, but it was scoreboard pressure.
“That’s the biggest thing that we learnt. It doesn’t matter how much rugby you play, if you don’t build scoreboard pressure on the opposition then you end up losing the match.
“Hopefully for us, we don’t have a repeat of that for this quarter-final.”
No side have won the World Cup after losing a pool game and South Africa started the tournament with a stunning 34-32 defeat by Japan.
Yet they bounced back to top Pool B and rounded off the group phase with a 64-0 thrashing of the United States at London Olympic Stadium last week.
“It’s been like my career with ups and downs,” said Burger, who years ago survived a potentially fatal bacterial meningitis infection.
“We started with the most famous loss in World Cup history against Japan and after that the next two weeks were probably my toughest as a Springbok.
“Coming back to win against Samoa and Scotland, luckily enough we turned the corner, and topped our group.
“What’s important about this group is we have pressed the reset button after we had that loss and now we have to concentrate on winning a quarter-final.”
Wales, who beat South Africa in Cardiff in November, have been hard hit by injuries.
But Burger warned that Wales, beaten semi-finalists at the 2011 World Cup, are well-drilled by coach Warren Gatland.
“Most teams have picked up injuries during this World Cup but if you look at the way they play, they’re still working their systems,” said Burger. “That’s what protects you as a player.”