De Villiers’ leadership praised

Date published: February 19 2016

Leicester Tigers director of rugby Richard Cockerill has lauded Jean de Villiers’ knowledge and leadership ahead of his debut for the club.

The former Springbok and Stormers captain, who has recovered from a calf injury, is set to return to action against Harlequins for the first time since joining Leicester on a six-month contract in December last year.

De Villiers, 34, has been training for two weeks now and the World Cup-winning centre’s comeback will be a boost for Leicester, who will be looking to end a two-game losing streak at the Twickenham Stoop on Friday.

Cockerill said De Villiers’ attitude over the past two weeks has been remarkable.

“His touch and understanding of the game is great,” he told the Leicester Mercury.

“You probably don’t equate South African rugby with back play but his knowledge of the game and his leadership have been fantastic.

“His body might not have done much this year but his mind is ready for it, he wants to contribute.

“Leicester don’t pay him enough to come for the money, I can promise you that.”

 Cockerill also said the squad have enjoyed the advice offered by the Test centurion.

“He wants to contribute and enjoy it, he wants to play with the young backs around him and help,” he added.

“That is a great mentality from a guy his age who has achieved what he has achieved.”