South Africa could hold on to the top of Group D if they win against Samoa tomorrow morning, but might then face one of the favourites for the trophy, Australia, in the first knockout match.
South Africa has won three out of three games at the rugby world cup, but this is still not enough to guarantee a quarter-final place. Only the All Blacks have secured such a spot.
South Africa, Wales and Samoa are the three teams in the "Group of Death" that could go through to the next round.
Springbok assistant coach Dick Muir has reportedly said the clash with Samoa would be the ideal preparation for the quarter-finals, provided they get the desired result on Friday. Muir said the defending champions were ready for their "knockout game" because they were prepared for their tough and very physical group. "For us, it's still knockout. If we don't get the result then we don't make it.
"We were quite excited about the look of our pool when it came out," Muir told media ahead of the sell-out match at the North Harbour Stadium in Auckland.
The Bok management and players have taken note of Samoa's potential and the Island team is viewed as a serious threat. Their new, more structured style had served them well and that it would be a mistake to move away from it now.
South Africa: Pat Lambie, JP Pietersen, Jaque Fourie, Frans Steyn, Bryan Habana, Morne Steyn, Fourie du Preez; Pierre Spies, Schalk Burger, Heinrich Brussow, Victor Matfield (captain), Danie Rossouw, Jannie du Plessis, Bismarck du Plessis, Tendai Mtawarira.
Reserves: John Smit, Gurthro Steenkamp, CJ van der Linde, Willem Alberts, Francois Louw, Francois Hougaard, Jean de Villiers.
Samoa: Paul Williams, David Lemi, Seilala Mapusua, Eliota Fuimaono-Sapolu, Alesana Tuilagi, Tusi Pisi, Kahn Fotuali'i; George Stowers, Maurie Fa'asavalu, Taiasina Tuifu'a, Kane Thompson, Daniel Leo, Census Johnston, Mahonri Schwalger (captain), Sakaria Taulafo.
Reserves: Ole Avei, Anthony Perenise, Logovi'i Mulipola, Ofisa Treviranus, Filipo Lavea Levi, Junior Poluleuligaga, George Pisi.
Kick-off: 9:30am (South African time)