The Springboks won just four of their 12 Tests in 2016, prompting calls for the sacking of coach Allister Coetzee.
Coetzee will on December 13 meet with an SA Rugby EXCO sub-committee for his 2016 season review, while reports have surfaced this week that the Boks are on the lookout for a new coach in 2017.
De Villiers, who played in 109 Tests for the Boks between 2002 and 2015, is in Cape Town ahead of Thursday’s Nelson Mandela Legacy Cup match between the Proteas and the Springboks at Newlands.
The pre-match press conference involved a lot of bantering between De Villiers, JP Duminy and Damian de Allende, but the former skipper did get serious when asked about the tough year Bok supporters have endured.
“Everything is a process and sport goes through cycles, like anything in life,” De Villiers said.
“From a cricketing point of view, these guys (Proteas) found themselves in a dark spot as well a couple of months ago and they were able to get through it, purely because that’s what we do as South Africans.
“The fans play such a big part in that. They’re very knowledgeable, very passionate and I think that is why we can be successful.
“Once you lose that ... the interest of your stakeholders and your fans, then I think we’re lost.
“I think we all agree that the Springboks aren’t doing the way we’d want them to do and they’d be the first to put their hands up.
“Hopefully we can turn it around and make the changes that are needed and hopefully by this time, next year we can come back and say that we got through it and that both national sides are doing very well.”
Tickets for Thursday’s Nelson Mandela Legacy Cup match are still on sale - there are about 4 000 left as of Wednesday morning - and the event is seeking to raise R1 000 000 for the Nelson Mandela Foundation.