And the Welsh, who play Tests against South Africa in Durban and Nelspruit next month, have had well-publicised problems in that most crucial department.
The reverse fixture in Cardiff sparked an unfortunate run for stalwart Wales prop Gethin Jenkins, as he has received three yellow cards in nine internationals since, all for offences at scrum-time.
Hooker Du Plessis, 29, told The Rugby Paper: “That day in November the pitch was terrible and barely had any grass, making scrummaging really difficult but, as a front row unit, we aspire to be the best in the world and try to exploit every team we play in this department, not just Wales.”
Du Plessis’ quest is certainly not unrealistic. His combination with twin brother Jannie and their Sharks team-mate Tendai “the Beast” Mtawarira has been successful for club and country.
But the Springboks possess rare strength in depth as hooker Adriaan Strauss, as well as props Coenie Oosthuizen, Frans Malherbe and Guthro Steenkamp, provide back-up.
If, as expected, he sees off the competition and gets the nod against the Welsh, Du Plessis promises the Boks will not be taking them lightly, despite having lost only once in 27 matches to Wales.
“We’ll be making sure we’re fully prepared, make no mistake,” he said. “As soon as you look at past games and use them to predict the future you’re going to fall pretty hard. These Tests will be the start of the international season for us and the past counts for nothing. It’s a new year with a blank page.
“I’d say the same about Wales – the past counts for nothing. We’ve always had really close battles against them. They showed glimpses of what they’re capable of in the Six Nations and I definitely wouldn’t say they’ve lost their edge.
“You look at the players they have and that’s a side that can beat any team on any day. We’ll pay the price if we’re not absolutely at our best against Wales, that’s for sure.”
With the World Cup now fewer than 500 days away, the 57-cap Du Plessis believes the Springboks are on the right track: “We had a good year last year but I am confident we have gained plenty of experience and that bodes well.
“We are desperate to win the World Cup in 2015 and I believe that it is a realistic expectation.”
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