Tigers passion impresses De Villiers

Date published: December 22 2015

Former Springbok captain Jean de Villiers admits he's been struck by the passion for Leicester Tigers among the club's players and coaches.

De Villiers, who arrived at the start of December and is nearing full fitness after breaking his jaw during the World Cup, is clearly impressed.

And the 109 cap South African international has revealed that a conversation with former boss Heyneke Meyer helped him make the move.

"I spoke to (former Tigers head coach) Heyneke Meyer and, to be honest, it made the decision for me much easier with what he said," he told the club website.

"He was only at Leicester a short time but he spoke warmly about the club.

"We get all the game on TV back home from the Premiership and Europe, and watching those I was always amazed by how passionate Richard Cockerill is. There are similarities there with Heyneke in a way.

"You cannot coach or teach that kind of passion, you can see the passion he has for the club and it places a value on the club and the jersey. You cannot buy that.

"That passion will take you a long way. Last year the team struggled and had a lot of injuries but still got to the semi-final. That has an influence on this season and where we find ourselves because there were a lot of character tests and the guys got through it. You learn from experience like that."

De Villiers added: "The people, the players, the coaches, the club itself, everything has been great. I'm very happy with the decision. If people invite you in then it makes for an easy transition and that is how it has been here. I can only compliment the staff at Leicester, the players have been unbelievable.

"I haven't been a new boy for a long time but it has been great and now it is just about getting out on the pitch and earning my stripes, that is why I am here.

"Even though I have played 109 Tests for my country, I come here looking to prove my worth again and earn respect. As a player I just want to get on the pitch and do that."