Brodie Retallick admits the Springboks have "out-muscled" the All Blacks in the past and believes the key to unlocking the world champions' renowned defence is by continuing to play with more freedom.
The 30-year-old All Blacks lock, who personally holds an impressive unbeaten record against the Springboks with 10 wins and a draw, knows more than most about what to expect from Rassie Erasmus' team.
He believes dealing with their line speed and physicality will be crucial in this weekend's 100th test between the sides.
"I think where they've caught us out the last couple of times was when they did it was through their line speed defensively," Retallick said on Tuesday. "They've out-muscled us and we haven't been able to break them down through our attack and then they punished us.
"I think physically you've always got the set-piece battle but dealing with their line speed and being able to make breaches and then convert them is going to be massive."
Teammate Beauden Barrett added similar thoughts, saying how the team chooses to attack will be crucial.
"The matchup upfront is going to be a big one. They're a very big physical pack and they like to have that dominance. How we choose to attack is going to be very important this week. Whoever is in the driver's seat will fall a lot on our shoulders."
Retallick, who was rested in the All Blacks' 36-13 victory over the Pumas, said what he saw from the sideline last weekend was an example of the freedom and creativity that will be important when they face South Africa.
"I thought it was awesome," he said about the team's performance on Saturday night. "It was obviously tough when you're not maybe playing every week consistently to battle and get match fitness and decision making and stuff like that. But I thought some of the execution on Saturday night was great.
"I think there are some players using their natural ability and playing with a lot of freedom. You're seeing forwards carrying around the ruck and off-loading and running it under the sticks; and then you've got the midfielders creating opportunities that, although we didn't convert on the weekend with a couple of forward passes, they're still creating them.
"I'm seeing the boys playing with freedom on attack and then also working so hard for the team defensively, and is something maybe we haven't seen for a little bit and it's awesome to watch on the sideline."
Retallick says that philosophy, to play with freedom and not get too bogged down in the team's structure, is something the coaches have encouraged and could prove to be the difference on Saturday night against the Boks.
"I guess it's two completely different styles. From our point of view it's what we do with the ball and we don't want to be caught up in going set piece to set piece. If that does happen in periods then we need to be able to control it at the front there.
"[But] the freedom that the boys are playing with and using the ball and creating opportunities, it's no doubt at how we want to play our game."
Asked if that freedom of play has been a particular focus for the team, Retallick said: "To be fair, it's not something that we've been training a lot of. It's just kind of happening.
"And I think that's the great part of where the team is at and with the freedom from the coaches that you make a decision to do something when it's on and you take the opportunity.
"You don't have to stay in structure the whole time. It's definitely been talked about but it's not something we're doing a lot, but it's awesome to see the boys doing it."
Ultimately for the All Blacks, it's about focusing on their game and themselves, as opposed to getting bogged down in what to expect from a Springboks side that will be determined to bounce back from two straight losses.
"You have to embrace that challenge, what's coming and the significance of this test match or any test match. But once you get on the field, you ultimately want to play with freedom," Barrett said. "As soon as you cross the line, you're not going to let the occasion get the better of you. It's about enjoying your footy, remembering why you're playing the game and backing your instincts.
"It's a great challenge for us, for this team and where we are right now. Obviously they are the world champs but we want to continue on ourselves and focus on what we're doing well and the areas that we can improve on."
"It's the first time this team has played a World Cup champion in a long time; it's been the All Blacks' title for so long," Retallick added. "They've earned that reputation and it's something they still hold. So we're going out there to give it our best shot and hopefully to take it to them."