Jump to Main ContentJump to Primary Navigation
leicestertigers.comMattioli Woods Welford RoadContact UsTopps Tiles

De Villiers impressed by passion for Tigers

Figure image
Jean de Villiers says he has been struck by the passion for Leicester Tigers among the club's players and coaches.The former South Africa captain joined Tigers at the start of December and is nearing fitness after breaking his jaw during the Rugby World Cup.   Capped 109 times by his country and twice named South Africa Player of the Year (2008 and 2013), de Villiers is among the game’s most experienced players but says he is struck by the passion there is for the Tigers.   “I spoke to (former Tigers and South Africa head coach) Heyneke Meyer and, to be honest, it made the decision for me much easier with what he said,” said de Villiers.   “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 Heynecke 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.”