And now De Villiers, whose comments regularly drew controversy during the Lions tour, has told journalists that Declan Kidney's men can be better than the Lions themselves.
"The Irish team were camouflaged in red jerseys in South Africa and we all know it," said de Villiers.
"This Irish team can be, at times, much better than the Lions were because of the fact they play together so much more.
"They won the Grand Slam and the Six Nations. We are playing against the best…that is what international rugby is all about."
De Villiers has also refuted suggestions that there will be any bad blood between the two sides because of the tense nature of the Boks' three encounters with Ian McGeechan's tourists.
As many as 13 Irishmen featured for the Lions in South Africa (with three more being forced to withdraw after being selected for the original 37-man squad), but de Villiers insists the relationship between the Boks and the Lions was always cordial and will therefore have no relevance to this weekend's game.
"I think the bad blood was only with you guys (the media)," added de Villiers.
"There was no bad blood with us. We extended to them, like we do in all our other games.
"I don't think there was anything extraordinary on the field of play that could cause bad blood. Again, when you stand and look at things, most of the reports were overrated over here.
"For us, we are here to do a job. The blood thing is nothing at all that can affect us."