Johannesburg - Boasting a six-match unbeaten run, the Springboks are showing signs of improving, but it is their performance in the Rugby Championship which will forever be remembered.
“It is all well and good to say the right things but it comes down to putting up a good performance on the field,” De Villiers said ahead of their Rugby Championship opener against Argentina at FNB Stadium on Saturday.
The statistics from the Boks’ last six matches painted an encouraging picture. They had scored 20 tries compared to the six they had conceded.
However, these statistics would mean nothing if they were unable to take this form into the tough four-nations competition.
The Boks opened last year’s campaign with a 27-6 victory over Argentina, which they followed up with a nervous 16-16 draw against the South Americans in Mendoza the following week.
De Villiers said the Boks hoped to pay homage to former president Nelson Mandela with a good performance.
The national side would be sharing the same stage as Bafana Bafana, who play Burkina Faso in a friendly match earlier in the day, as part of the Nelson Mandela Sport and Culture Day.
“Hopefully, we can put up a good performance, get the right result and bring a smile to Madiba's face,” he said.
While the Springboks were in a better place than they were a year ago, they were well aware of the tough challenge which awaited them in the tournament - which also included Australia and New Zealand.
“It is never easy going into the Rugby Championship, but our preparation was definitely easier this time around and we are feeling confident,” De Villiers said.
“The games we played earlier in the year were good, with all the signs that we are going to have a good tournament.”
He said Los Pumas would be less of an unknown factor than they were a year ago, when they were first introduced into the competition.
“We know what to expect but we also know what we expect of ourselves and the standards we have for this team," De Villiers said.
“Coming into the competition last year, they had a point to prove and they definitely showed that they belong in the competition. They did well and they were competitive throughout the campaign.”
De Villiers said they were preparing for a physical battle, particularly among the forwards and expected a tussle at the breakdowns and scrums.
"They are very physical at the breakdown. They compete for your ball, and that is probably where we let ourselves down last year.
"In the second game in Mendoza, we couldn’t manage to get quick ball, although we actually played some good rugby at times in that game.
"We are going to have to be more effective in that area and we’ve put in hard work in regarding that."