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South Africa skipper De Villiers wary of weakened Ireland

The Springboks鈥?last outing was a tense 27-25 win over the world champion All Blacks that has provided a big boost in confidence a year out from the World Cup in England.

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But captain De Villiers said Ireland will present immense challenges, even without a number of top names, and should themselves be celebrating a victory over New Zealand 12 months ago after letting a lead slip with the last play of the game.

鈥淲e are under no illusions. We won鈥檛 underestimate this Irish team, there is no reason we should. They are the Six Nations champions, they should have beaten New Zealand,鈥?De Villiers told reporters on Friday.

鈥淛ust because we beat the All Blacks doesn鈥檛 mean we are the perfect team. We have sill got a lot to improve on and this is the next step towards that improvement.

鈥淚t鈥檚 a test to see where we are at against a team that will give us different challenges in different conditions.

“It鈥檚 important to evolve as a team every time we play and we have made strides this year in the way we play. We need to be at our best to get a result.鈥?/p>

With Ireland missing nine of the side that won the Six Nations in March, and a rookie centre pairing of Robbie Henshaw and New Zealand-born Jared Payne, who will be making his debut, there has been talk that this increasingly formidable-looking Springboks side will comfortably beat the home side.

De Villiers does not expect an easy ride, though, and said the players are in the right frame of mind going into the game.

鈥淭he thing for us is not what gets said outside the circle of the team, it is what we say to each other that counts. It鈥檚 your attitude in the way you approach the game,鈥?he said.

The selection of 20-year-old Handre Pollard at flyhalf ahead of the more predictable Morne Steyn will add an extra dimension to the way South Africa play and opens up options for the team.

“There are many factors… where do they give us the opportunity to attack, whether that be attacking from first phase or identifying space and getting the ball into that space. Whether it be out wide, whether it be kicking behind them or keeping it in hand,鈥?De Villiers added.

鈥淲e feel we have the ability to play any sort of game, it is just making the right decisions on the day and identifying that space so we can execute.鈥?/p>

(Reporting by Nick Said in Cape Town; Editing by Ken Ferris)

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