While the Springboks managed to restore some pride in the jersey against the All Blacks in their final Rugby Championship match at Newlands, they face another big challenge when they tour next Europe next month.
Coach Allister Coetzee relied on mostly the same players in their nine Test matches so far this year. For the most part, the incumbents have done the job, but there may be a couple of positions where Coetzee and his management would like to explore some options.
KweséESPN looks at five players who could bolster the Springboks in their matches against Ireland, France, Italy and Wales in November and December.
Warrick Gelant (fullback)
Following a slow start to the season -- after coming back from a long injury layoff -- Gelant has been running opposition defences ragged for the South African A side and the Blue Bulls in the Currie Cup. The former SA Sevens star has the full range of skills and pace to be a top-quality international fullback, while his defensive play is also solid because of his sevens background. The Bok backline is in need of a bit of X factor, and a player who can create some magic out of nothing. Gelant could be the Springboks' answer to game breakers such as Israel Folau and Damian McKenzie.
Curwin Bosch (flyhalf)
The All Blacks groomed Beauden Barrett to become a modern-day match-winner. They expertly exposed him to international rugby from a young age, so that he could develop into the rugby player he is today. The Boks should treat Bosch in the same manner, gradually exposing him to international rugby. He will learn valuable lessons on the end-of-year tour, but he is also good enough to hold his own when he is called upon to play. With Elton Jantjies and Handré Pollard looking to be the first-choice No 10s, Bosch needs to be thrown into the mix so that he can be deployed in emergency situations.
Bismarck du Plessis (hooker)
Malcolm Marx has probably been the standout Springbok player this season, but possibly also the most exhausted. The Bok hooker has played in all nine Test matches for the Boks, putting in 75 minutes plus in most of those matches, which is highly unusual for front-row forward at this level. The Bok hookers on the bench haven't played a lot of minutes, and it's clear that management doesn't have a lot of faith in them. So why not get an experience campaigner like Du Plessis back in the fold. But he must be keen to play for the Boks again. The camp doesn't need big egos to break up a team environment which has come a long way since the dark days of 2016.
Duane Vermeulen (eighthman)
The Boks have used a few makeshift No 8s in the absence of the injured captain Warren Whiteley and Vermeulen this year. Uzair Cassiem, Jean-Luc du Preez and Francois Louw have all had a go at the position, but have been solid at best. It's unclear where Vermeulen's fitness is at after having shoulder surgery in June, but he was expected to be back in action in November. The Toulon star is the type of high-octane, yet tremendously skilful, rugby player the Boks have been looking for in their back row. Vermeulen is also a wonderful player on the ground, and will free up the likes of Siya Kolisi to play more with ball in hand.
Lukhanyo Am (centre)
If wasn't for that ill-timed injury shortly before the first Test against France, the Sharks centre would probably have featured as the Boks' first-choice outside centre. Jesse Kriel has been solid at No 13, but the jury is still out if that is his best position in a Springbok jersey. Am is a fantastic all-rounder as an outside centre. A great attacking player, who always gets his hands on the ball, always looking to attack space. But he is also a tough defender, and a guy who is actually one of the better backline players competing for possession on the ground. He would be perfect for the northern-hemisphere conditions.