AUTUMN INTERNATIONAL: IRELAND v SOUTH AFRICA
Venue: Croke Park, Dublin Date: Saturday, 28 November Kick-off: 1430 GMT Coverage: Live coverage on BBC2, BBC Radio Ulster MW and the BBC Sport website
Brian O'Driscoll bursts away from Bryan Habana on this year's Lions tour
Brian O'Driscoll has scoffed at suggestions that South Africa are on the slide as Ireland target the scalp of the world champions on Saturday.
The Springboks have been beaten by France, Leicester and Saracens on their current tour but O'Driscoll says Ireland face a huge task at Croke Park.
"No, South Africa are not a team in decline," said O'Driscoll.
"That's sections of the media trying to wind the South Africans up a little bit. It's not doing us any favours."
Victory against Italy on Saturday has been South Africa's solitary success in Europe and they have been replaced by New Zealand at the summit of the world rankings.
It is a far cry from an honour-laden summer that saw them edge the Lions across three enthralling Tests and seize their first Tri-Nations title since 2004.
They lost to France - boo hoo! They won't be crying about it
Ireland, virtually at full strength and invigorated by their Grand Slam success, will have few better opportunities to upset the injury-struck Springboks.
But O'Driscoll predicts South Africa will be determined to finish an exhausting campaign on a triumphant note.
"They're the reigning world champions, have beaten the Lions and won the Tri-Nations," added O'Driscoll.
"They lost to France - boo hoo! They won't be crying about it, they'll be looking to put it right against us in the last game of what's been a great season for them.
"If we get the upper hand we'll say we've beaten a very strong South African team."
Adding spice to the contest is South Africa skipper John Smit's claims that a senior Ireland player created animosity between the Lions and Springboks this summer.
Smit insists the unnamed player declined an offer for the Lions to join the Springboks for a drink in their changing room after each Test.
With so many Irishmen contributing towards a brutal and compelling Test series - 10 of them won Lions caps with all but the injured Luke Fitzgerald in the 22 for Saturday - South Africa's first visit to Croke Park has taken on the guise of a grudge match.
However, O'Driscoll is playing down any suggestion of bad blood.
"Is there animosity? No," said the Ireland captain, who will be winning his 96th cap on Saturday.
"I'm sure we'll see a competitive edge as we always do when we face South Africa but there will certainly be no leftovers from the tour."