The defending champions will begin their title defence on Sunday, 10 September, against the Scots in Marseille, before facing Romania (17 September), Ireland (23 September) and Tonga (1 October) in their remaining pool matches.

Nienaber’s charges wrapped up their on-field preparations at their training camp in Corsica on Friday and will depart for their RWC base in Toulon on Saturday, and he said the excitement for the journey ahead had kicked in.

“When we started this journey in 2018, we knew there would be limited time to prepare for the 2019 World Cup,” said Nienaber.

“But we had four years to prepare for this tournament, although we lost one due to the COVID pandemic. In that time our focus was largely on building as much squad depth as possible. So, I think that’s the main difference between now and 2019.”

With their training block done in Corsica, the Bok coach was pleased with their preparations in the Mediterranean island and said: “We had a really good week, with a solid conditioning block. The conditions here are similar to Durban. It’s hot and humid, but it was great for the players to get used to the conditions and we got some good work done.”

He added: “I have butterflies from excitement. We’ve been working toward this for four years, so we are very excited to get the competition started.”

Nienaber brushed off the pressure on the team as the defending champions and declared that this could be one of the most closely contest World Cups yet.

“We’ve been the defending world champions for the last four years, and we can’t change that, so we have to accept it going into this World Cup,” said Nienaber.

“But we know there are several teams that can win this World Cup and if we are one percent off on any given day, it could be a long day on the park.”

Looking ahead at their opening match against Scotland in a little over a week, Nienaber expected a physical and competitive encounter.

“They are a fit team and because of that, they can get stuck in and play for over 80 minutes,” said Nienaber. “That’s certainly one of their strengths.

“We know Pieter de Villiers (Scotland’s scrum coach) well, and they also have strong set pieces, which allows them to play with the ball and with a lot of rhythm.”

The Boks will arrive in Toulon on Sunday morning and start with their on-field preparations on Monday.