Dublin - South Africa captain Jean de Villiers says he and his side are under no illusions about the task facing them in their one-off Test against Six Nations champions Ireland in Dublin on Saturday.
The 33-year-old centre - who will win his 103rd cap - said just because the Springboks were coming off a stunning 27-25 victory over the All Blacks, ending the New Zealanders 22 match winning streak, didn't make them a perfect side.
"We are under no illusions about the Irish," he told reporters on Friday.
"They are the Six Nations champions and they should have beaten the All Blacks last November (they led until the final minute of the game) and even the New Zealand players admitted that.
"We have made strides ourselves over the past year but just because we beat the All Blacks doesn't make us a perfect side. This match is another test for us and presents different challenges."
De Villiers, who missed out on South Africa's 2007 World Cup win after he tore a bicep muscle in a pool match, said that the appointment of Joe Schmidt as Ireland coach last year had engendered a massive change.
"You can see it in the detail and how they approach matches now," said de Villiers.
"His success at Leinster speaks for itself and he was pretty useful too when he worked under Vern Cotter at Clermont.
"Ireland are a much better team under Schmidt and the players look as if they are enjoying themselves. That is clear from their Six Nations success and we know this is going to be a tough match and we will have to be at our best."
De Villiers, who played with Ireland captain Paul O'Connell for a season at Munster, dismissed talk this is the strongest Springboks squad for 20 years which has a the experience of other cap centurions like Victor Matfield and Bryan Habana and young talent in centre, partner Jan Serfontein and fly-half Handre Pollard.
"What is said outside the circle of the squad is set aside by us," he said.
"What is more important is that when you pull that Springbok jersey on over your head is the attitude you take with you out onto the pitch."
De Villiers, who was appointed captain by coach Heyneke Meyer in 2012, said that part of the strength of the present squad was their unity.
"I am really enjoying myself because it is always nice when you can do something you really love with guys you like to be around.
"It is really helpful when there are sticky situations on the pitch that you have the camaraderie we have which can be enough to get you through."
De Villiers said it was a case of entering the unknown facing the new Irish centre partnership of New Zealand-born debutant Jared Payne and 21-year-old Robbie Henshaw, who has only three caps to his name.
"They bring something different to the game compared to Gordon D'Arcy (who sits out the test) and Brian O'Driscoll (now retired) who to my mind was the greatest centre of this generation.
"They'll be coming out firing and want to prove a point.
"With regard to Jan (Serfontein) we have been really linking well and interchanging on the pitch. He has really matured over the past year and has played some great rugby."