LONDON (AP) -- Having had time to put their emotions in order after their semifinal defeat, the Springboks are starting to regard the Rugby World Cup third-place match on Friday as a must-win.
South Africa coach Heyneke Meyer and the players were, naturally, depressed after falling to New Zealand 20-18 at Twickenham on Saturday, and were in no mood to face Argentina in the consolation playoff.
But after two relaxing days off from rugby, they were coming to realize that match at Olympic Stadium was a chance to leave the tournament with a win, and give retiring or departing teammates a rousing send-off.
"There is another opportunity to represent the Springboks. It is still an amazing honor, and we can still go away with third place, even though it is not what we came here for, but it is still not that bad," flyhalf Handre Pollard said on Tuesday.
Center Jesse Kriel said they weren't lacking for motivation.
"Some of the older players might be playing their last game, and we have to play for their respect, and just showing them how much they really mean to South Africa," Kriel said. "It's a big burden on our shoulders to give them a good performance and to send them off on a good note."
The match is expected to be the last Springboks' outings for at least Victor Matfield, captain Fourie du Preez, and Schalk Burger.
Assistant coach John McFarland warned his team that they can't afford to face the Pumas without being mentally up for it.
"Argentina are no slouches," McFarland said. "If you turn up without the right attitude then they will punish you.
"It is our last test of the year, and I'm looking forward to it. We put our hearts and souls into the last year with the Boks, and we can put the icing on the cake even though we know it isn't the final we all hoped for.
"We (the coaches) have given everything, and the players have given everything, and we couldn't have asked for more from them. For us, third would be acceptable."
South Africa played for third once before, in 1999, and beat New Zealand.