Springboks captain Siya Kolisi feels his team have earned back the respect of the All Blacks ahead of their much-anticipated pool B clash in Yokohoma at the Rugby World Cup on Saturday.
The rugby world has widely tipped the match as a dress rehearsal for the World Cup final on November 2, and Kolisi knows how important this game is if the Boks want to get a psychological advantage over their old foe.
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For years, New Zealand dominated the head-to-head battle between the two nations, but the last four meetings have been decided by two points or less.
And the closely-fought battles have seen a revival of what is widely regarded as rugby's greatest rivalry.
"It's a rivalry that has been going since I was a kid. I remember watching when I was younger," he said.
"The rivalry is the best it's been in a while, so I'm looking forward to the game. We will give them the respect they deserve, but all that we can do and sort out is obviously ourselves. We are in a good place at the moment.
"They were quite dominant before the past two years, and then we had to fight back as a team to make sure that we got a little of the respect back."
Kolisi added that this match will give the Springboks a good gauge of how much his team have truly improved.
"We work really hard, and the only way we could see whether we are improving or not is to test yourself against the best in the world.
"It gave us a lot of belief and hope to win that game two years ago [36-34 in Wellington], and since then, we haven't looked back.
"We believe we can get better and better. That's what we strive for. They are tough opposition to test yourself against, but you can see where you are when you play against them.
"This is the game you want to play in."
At the last World Cup four years ago, the Springboks opened their campaign with a shock 34-32 defeat to Japan - and Kolisi is adamant there will be no repeat of that performance.
"We are a very different team now - different coaching staff. We don't want to start like that, and we have an opposition who also wants to start well," he said.
"There is a huge history behind us, and we have learned from the past, so we have shown as much respect as we can to New Zealand, and have worked hard on our stuff.
"It makes it really tough if you lose your first game, because then basically every game is like a final."
Join us at 9:45pm Saturday for live updates of the All Blacks v South Africa World Cup clash.