Nelson Mandela has called on the Springboks to put their troubles behind them and bring the glory days back to South Africa.
South Africa's 1995 triumph produced an iconic image
The former South African president addressed the squad before the Boks flew to Australia.
He reminded them of their 1995 triumph and told the team how important the victory had been to the whole country.
South Africa's World Cup build-up was rocked by a race row that saw second-row Geo Cronje dropped from the squad.
But Springboks' manager Gideon Sam, formerly a leading anti-apartheid activist, said Mandela urged the players to be an inspiration for South Africans of all colours.
"The message was contained in (Mandela's) address to us: 'Understand what happened in 1995 to a young democracy'," said Sam.
"'The whole country will be looking at this campaign and a good result here will let us relive those days of 1995'.
"It was very clear in his address to us that he was saying 'guys, I still think of 1995'.
"We realise how important this campaign is to us."
The race row began when Cronje, who is white, refused to share a room with black team-mate and second-row rival Quinton Davids.
Both players were excluded from the Springboks' squad.
South African captain Korne Crige said the players had found Mandela's speech an inspiration.
"It was just great to see him and hear his message and feel the aura he brings around the team," said Krige.
"He said he would not be able to come to this World Cup but, if we did bring the trophy home, he would be definitely be waiting at the airport.
"He's one of the most respected men in the world, if not the most respected, and it meant a lot for our players to meet him.
"It was a massive honour and the players feel it is huge motivation for them."