South Africa's superb revival over the past 15 months has taken them from one of their lowest ever periods to genuine Rugby World Cup contenders as they chase a third global title in Japan.
After picking up a bronze medal in England four years ago, the Boks won only 11 of their next 25 tests, including a first ever loss to Italy and a record 57-0 humiliation by New Zealand.
They were one-dimensional, lacking in intensity and seemingly directionless under former coach Allister Coetzee, with concerns over the individual skills of players and their ability to implement a successful game-plan.
Rassie Erasmus took over the side in March 2018 after being installed as Director of Rugby and the upswing in fortunes has been dramatic.
A home-series win over England was followed by an away success against New Zealand in Wellington and finally the Rugby Championship crown for the first time in a decade as the Boks head to the World Cup unbeaten this year.
Whereas at the end of 2017 there was a real sense of a lack of quality available, Erasmus was challenged over who to leave out from his World Cup squad of 31, and his final group has been met with universal approval from the demanding media and supporters of the side.
"I really believe this is the best 31 guys we could have picked who are in form, available and fit enough," he said.
"We are in with a much better chance than 18 months ago. I wouldn't tag us as favourites, but we have a much more realistic chance."
Erasmus' clever management of his players has provided opportunity for a number of new names to emerge and he now has strength in depth in most positions.
The Boks open their campaign against New Zealand in Yokohama on Sept. 21 and will also play Italy, Namibia and Canada in their Pool B.Reuters