Jean de Villiers says the Springboks have a massive responsibility to get their Rugby World Cup plans back on track when they face Samoa at Villa Park in Birmingham on Saturday.
The Springbok captain said last weekend’s devastating loss to Japan has been put in the past, but that the South Africans would not forget what happened in Brighton as they prepare for their second match of the tournament.
"We all know how important this game is for our country, the game of rugby, and what happened last weekend did a lot of damage," said De Villiers.
"We now have a responsibility to rectify that. We disappointed a lot of people last week and … we need to stand up. We put ourselves in this position and we need to get ourselves out of this position."
De Villiers said he was acutely aware of the criticism aimed at him, coach Heyneke Meyer and the team for that defeat. He also admitted that he had ignored calls from the coaching box during the Japan game.
"Yes I did and I am also very aware of the criticism that he is under for selecting me," said De Villiers.
"But the coach has fully backed me – and the other 22 players for Saturday – so it’s now up to me and my team-mates to perform. I have to show that I deserve this opportunity."
"At the end of the day I want South Africa to do well, I want them to win. Whether I’m part of that or not, I want that. Whether I’m part of the starting line-up, on the bench or in the stands, I’m willing to give everything to get that," De Villiers added.
"We are feeling the pressure as well. We know how important this game is for our country,” De Villiers explained.
"What saddens you as well is to see how a loss like this can break the country apart. The responsibility we have is to rectify that.
"Rugby is a game but in South Africa it more than just a game. That responsibility we take onto the field with every game, and we disappointed a lot of people last week."
Former Protea fast bowler Allan Donald handed out the Springboks’ jerseys earlier on Friday and gave an inspirational message to the team.
Donald, the first South African to reach 300 Test wickets, played a lot of his cricket in Birmingham, for Warwickshire, before retiring and going into coaching.