De Villiers impressed by Cockerill's passion

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South Africa legend Jean de Villiers has spoken of his admiration for Leicester Tigers coach Richard Cockerill as the former Springboks captain nears his Premiership debut.

De Villiers agreed a move to the Premiership in October after calling time on his international career following the Rugby World Cup, the centre having broken his jaw during South Africa's 46-6 win against Samoa.

As a result of the injury the 34-year-old has yet to feature for the Tigers this season, but he has been impressed with the passion and enthusiasm within the club.

"Watching [on TV] I was always amazed by how passionate Richard Cockerill is," he told the official Tigers website. "There are similarities there with [former South Africa coach] Heyneke [Meyer] 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."