Victor Matfield believes South Africa's character enabled them to take the first step towards redemption following an abysmal Tri-Nations.
The Springboks overcame their lengthy injury list to launch their grand slam tour with a 23-21 victory against Ireland at Aviva Stadium. It was a welcome result having finished bottom of the Tri-Nations with a solitary win from six matches, although they endured a tense finish as the Irish staged a comeback.
"After what we went through in the Tri-Nations we needed to get back to winning ways and we're happy we did that," said Matfield, South Africa's stand-in captain. "We always had belief in ourselves because this is a team with a lot of talent."
He added: "Every time we pull that jersey on, we're a Springbok team and it doesn't matter if people talk you up or down, you have to perform.
"It was a proud Irish team that came back at us but the guys showed their character.
"Our coach Peter de Villiers has been talking a lot about character since we came together in camp and that came though in the end."