The Irish have not lost a Test since last summer's tour to New Zealand, stringing together 10 wins in a row in the process.
They also welcome the English to Dublin where they inflicted a painful defeat on Clive Woodward's side to deny them the clean sweep in 2001.
And despite England having been denied a Grand Slam four years in succession, Hickie said: "It's not a question of false praise or building them up to be something they're not.
"The reality is that they are probably one of the best, if not the best, teams in the world and we have to afford them the respect they deserve without being absolutely fearful of playing them.
"We're certainly not that and we're really looking forward to playing them.
"They've lots of very, very good players but they have to come and play us on our home ground and that is to our advantage.
"As a professional, it's important to try and do your best against a team as formidable as England. It's always good when you play against a really good side to see if you measure up both individually and collectively.
"That's the kind of challenge we have this week. I suppose we've played well in patches and not so well in others. A Grand Slam game is new for us but not for England. We haven't faced that challenge yet."