Ever since the arrival of Rassie Erasmus, South Africa are finding form as only a prospective World Cup quarter-final opponent for Ireland can.
While they finished a distant second to the All Blacks in the final table, they did beat New Zealand by two points in a dramatic Test in Wellington. While their November internationals were mixed - they lost to Wales and England, the latter in controversial circumstances - 2018 was, on the whole, an improvement on 2017, in which they finished third in the Rugby Championship and lost 57-0 away to the All Blacks.
The 'Boks, of course, are likely quarter-final opponents for Ireland, and will be should Ireland top their pool and South Africa finish second behind New Zealand in theirs.
Erasmus' arrival has improved standards, but the erstwhile Munster coach will end his role as head coach at the end of the World Cup in Japan and will concentrate on the more holistic demands of the role as Director of Rugby.
The role dictates that Erasmus is involved with all levels of Springbok rugby, but hasn't done this since taking over as head coach from Allister Coetzee. After the World Cup, however, he will return to that role. Erasmus confirmed as much in an interview with SuperSport's commentator Matt Pearce.
When I was appointed Director of Rugby ... at that stage I still thought Allister Coetzee was continuing. The leadership asked Allister to step down, and then asked me to step in. The moment I am finished with this [head coach role] and for the next six months, I will be involved with [the other SA Rugby structures] a lot.
Erasmus said he assumed the role as the Boks' head coach after Coetzee's firing due to the team's low ebb, the proximity of the World Cup and his familiarity with the set-up. "For somebody from the outside to all of a sudden have just 18 Test matches to prepare the team for the World Cup, I didn't think that would be fair to that coach. It would have been a 'suicide job'", said Erasmus.