Lions conquerer still ‘world class’

One of the key figures behind South Africa's recent triumph over the Lions has been described by his new coach as 'world class' despite a stuttering start to his new life in Ireland. [more]

Lions conquerer still ‘world class’

One of the key figures behind South Africa’s recent triumph over the Lions has been described by his new coach as ‘world class’ despite a stuttering start to his new life in Ireland.

Springbok star Jean de Villiers moved to Munster shortly after the Lions left for home but the 28-year-old has not had things all his own way since arriving in the Emerald Isle.

De Villiers has experienced a humiliating 30-0 derby defeat to Leinster and a disappointing Heineken Cup loss at Northampton in recent weeks as his new side have struggled to live up to their reputation as one of Europe’s toughest teams.

But while critics have questioned de Villiers’ own performances in the famous red shirt, Munster head coach Tony McGahan has complete faith in his player’s ability to transfer his skills from one hemisphere to another. 

"Jean is a world-class player and he comes in with nothing to prove to anyone in our set up,” said McGahan, after the South African scored one of seven tries in the 41-10 win over Italian Champions Treviso.

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“He’s making his own road into the side and we’re certainly happy with where he is at this time.

“He’s a tremendous guy and he comes with a big history of playing well with good sides." 

As for de Villiers himself, he hopes the second-half turnaround in his first game at Thomond Park can be a springboard for success for both he and his new side. 

"I hope this can be a turning point for us,” said the former Western Province veteran with more than 50 international caps to his name.

“I think in two or three months looking back, we might say that was the turning point, but only good performances in the next two weeks will give us that sort of result. 

"I didn’t get that much ball today, and again it’s not always the guys carrying the ball or making the big tackles. It’s what you do off the ball and I think that was the message all week: workrate, pass the ball and do the hard yards.

“To get the try was great and before this fantastic crowd, it was a great feeling.”

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