South Africa may have been drawn to face New Zealand in the opening match of the 2019 World Cup, but they remain confident they can go all the way.
It was revealed on Thursday that the Springboks (champions in 1995 and 2007) and the All Blacks (three-time winners in 1987, 2011 and 2015) will kick off their campaigns in Japan with a blockbuster opening encounter on Saturday, September 21 in the International Stadium Yokohama.
In his reaction to the match schedule draw, Springbok coach Allister Coetzee said the opener against New Zealand will be a huge match in every sense.
"We play the No.1 side in the world at the moment and we are aware how good they are," Coetzee said.
"The Test match in Cape Town [last month] has given our players a lot of belief and if we keep on improving then it will make for an even more interesting match.
"We are really excited to meet them first up.
"There is a great and proud rivalry between the Springboks and All Blacks.
"Judging by past encounters between the two sides, this opening group match is bound to be another massive contest."
The Springbok coach added that his team has serious respect for Italy and the other two group contenders.
"If you look at the November Tests in the Northern Hemisphere, you will see how competitive each of those test matches are.
"We have a lot of respect for all the teams in our pool and it important to have prepared very well for each match."
The last time the Springboks and All Blacks clashed at the World Cup was in 2015, when New Zealand defeated South Africa by two points in an epic semifinal match at Twickenham in London.
The Boks then overcame Argentina in the third-place play-off to clinch the bronze medal.
Following their huge opening encounter against their traditional rivals, the Springboks' next group match is against the top qualifying team from Africa, on September 28.
In their third group match, the Springboks play Italy on Friday, October 4.
The Springboks finish their group fixtures four days later against the repechage winner.