Ellis Park hosts the series opener as Eddie Jones’ men look to bring an end to their four-match losing run, the first three defeats of which condemned the team to a worst Championship performance since 1987.
The breakdown and discipline were the areas that derailed England’s title defence and Borthwick says adjustments have been made as a result.
“The Six Nations taught us some lessons that we’ve had to take on board and learn. It gives us an opportunity to change certain things and change the way we train,” forwards coach Borthwick said.
“We’ve seen some changes in the game and we’ve had to change accordingly. We want to win, we want to win every game. We’re raring to go.”
Borthwick expects South Africa to display their trademark ferocity while also benefiting from the presence of a couple of familiar faces well known to England’s squad.
“Clearly there are some things that are consistent and fundamental to South African rugby, which is their physical nature,” Borthwick said.
“We know they’re also a very good side that are packed full of quality and pace. Our players know Faf de Klerk and Willie le Roux very well from the Premiership. They have real pace in their back three.”
England sprang a surprise by naming Brad Shields on the bench despite the Wasps-bound Kiwi having never played a match in the Aviva Premiership.
The 27-year-old Hurricanes captain, who qualifies through his English parents, will make his debut as cover for either lock or flanker just six days after flying from New Zealand to join his team-mates for the first time.
“In any rugby team a player earns respect from how diligent and hard working they are and Brad has come in and been fantastic,” Borthwick said.
“He’s been doing loads of work to prepare himself and he understands what we’re trying to do. The attitude he’s shown in training has been exceptional and socially he’s been very good around the squad.
“Brad can play second and back row. He’s a good jumper and has scrummaged. First and foremost he’s a good rugby player.
“Anyone who watched his games in detail will see the work he gets through, the number of tackles he makes, the rucks he hits, the balls he carries.
“He does a lot of work that, unless you look closely, you don’t see. We’ve picked him because he’s a good player and he’s qualified to play for us. I’ve enjoyed working with him.”