Smal detects similarities between Ireland and the South Africa team that lifted the Webb Ellis trophy in 2007.
As assistant to head coach Jake White, Smal played an important role in helping the Springboks overcome shaky preparations to sweep all before them in France.
Just as Ireland have struggled in their warm-up Tests, losing all four games, four years ago South Africa finished bottom of the Tri Nations.
The experience has taught Smal the importance of perspective as he puts his faith in an Ireland squad he insists must deliver.
"In 2007 we played Connacht and nearly lost that game. We played Scotland and struggled against them as well," he said.
"But the players still had a lot of confidence in themselves and there was a lot of team unity.
"Because of our history, South African rugby has been full of provincialism and groups tended to form.
"When the Bulls beat the Sharks in the Super 14 final that year, everyone thought the Bulls would be arrogant but they had a feeling for the Sharks.
"A bond formed that made the South Africa squad very strong and that helped a lot. That same bond I can detect with Ireland.
"If you look at Brian O'Driscoll, Paul O'Connell and Leo Cullen, we have a lot of leadership.
"There's something special in these players and we believe that can be transferred onto the field. We just have to put it together now.
"We didn't get the results we wanted in the warm-up games, but in terms of the planning we were absolutely spot-on.
"We still have a lot of confidence in the players, they know what they have inside them and what they can do as a team.
"We'd like to have had a couple of wins behind us, but that's not the be-all and end-all."
Smal organised a meeting between White and Declan Kidney in 2008, enabling Ireland's head coach to pick the brains of the mastermind behind South Africa's World Cup triumph.
Having offered his own advice to the Irish management, Smal is pleased to see the approach being taken to New Zealand.
"The key to a successful World Cup is planning. I have to compliment Declan, he's done an outstanding job up until now," he said.
"Another crucial element is that it doesn't matter where you are ranked in the world, on the day you have to perform.
"You can only look at the next game. You pick the games off one by one and then after the pool matches you look at where you are. That's the approach we took in 2007.
"The whole preparation has been spot-on. Now we must start producing."
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