Simon Easterby says Ireland must start to beat southern hemisphere opponents away from home to improve future performances at World Cups.
An injury-hit Irish squad is in South Africa for a three-test series having never beaten the Springboks away.
Ireland play South Africa at Newlands on Saturday in the first test.
"It's important if we want to do better than getting to the quarter-final of the next World Cup," said coach Easterby.
"We have to beat them outside of Dublin."
Ireland's last match away against one of the three southern hemisphere giants was a record 60-0 defeat in Hamilton by the All Blacks four years ago.
Their last win over one of the 'big three' was at the 2011 World Cup in New Zealand when they beat Australia and Easterby believes they must start to get those results more regularly.
"We need to start to build that now, not three years time when it comes to the World Cup.
"We need to beat them outside of Dublin.
"It has got to be something we are striving towards now. It's a fantastic challenge for everybody."
Ireland have travelled without injured key players like Johnny Sexton, Tommy Bowe, Sean O'Brien, Cian Healy, Rob Kearney and Simon Zebo.
Easterby claims they have accepted the injury situation and must learn to adapt to a difficult environment.
"The players understand that it is going to be different to what we are used to.
"The Six Nations Championship is a credible tournament with a lot of parochial rivalries but down here we are a long way from home.
"We want to come and lay down a marker and make a statement over the next three weeks. The squad will want to leave here feeling like we have achieved something."
Ireland also play the Springboks in Johannesburg on June 18 and Port Elizabeth on June 25.