The Boks silenced most of their critics with their victory against England last weekend, but said the loss against Ireland still weighed heavily on their minds.
“It’s been a pretty tough week as well, the main message through the week was that we need to pitch up mentally. The big difference between the Ireland and the England game was exactly that,” he said.
“It was the mental preparation, just the focus going into that game, we are very aware of that and we need to get that right this weekend.”
De Villiers said people underestimate how important the mental preparation before a game can be.
“We used Ireland as the big focus point this week,” he said. “We need to make sure that half-a-second reaction time is better and quicker, as it was against England and not vice versa as it was in the Ireland game.
“The crowd will get behind Italy and they will be very passionate, and be focused and committed towards this one as well.”
New faces in the squad like fullback Johan Goosen and prop Trevor Nyakane, in his first start, will ensure they won’t rest on their laurels.
“We’ve got places in the side that we need to look after and some guys are in action after a long break. They want to make an impact as well, so the important thing is that each guy goes through his preparation and each guy makes sure he does his part,” he said.
“It won’t be easy, we’ll have to start well and play in the right areas, we need to make sure that we get in front, because as soon as they get a sniff it can become a very long day.”