Leicester Tigers sign ex-Springbok captain Jean de Villiers
Tigers make experienced addition to back line
Former South Africa captain to become Leicester’s 12th new arrival
Director of Rugby Richard Cockerill lauds de Villiers’ ‘invaluable experience’
Leicester Tigers have announced something of a coup this afternoon, confirming the surprise arrival of former South Africa captain, Jean de Villiers.
The 34-year-old was part of South Africa’s World Cup-winning squad in 2007 and skippered the Springboks in the 2015 campaign before a fractured jaw brought an early end to his tournament.
The inside centre, who can boast 109 international caps, announced his international retirement earlier this month and, after scoring no fewer than 135 points on the world stage, he becomes Leicester’s 12th new signing since the end of the 2014/15 campaign.
And Leicester fans can look forward to December 1st, the day when the former Munster man is set to begin training with his new club.
Reacting to the experienced back’s arrival, Tigers Director of Rugby Richard Cockerill said: “Jean brings invaluable experience to the squad.
“He is among the leading centres in the modern game and has played at the very highest level for a significant period of time.”
Cockerill admitted the success of other southern hemisphere recruits motivated the move, adding: “In recent seasons we’ve brought in players like Brad Thorn and Lote Tuqiri from successful environments in the southern hemisphere and they have made a significant contribution here.
“The signing of Jean de Villiers is another move in that style and we look forward to welcoming him and his family to the Tigers and to him starting work with us onDecember 1.”
Originally a winger, de Villiers made his Test debut in November 2002 before switching to centre with great effect. The 16-stone back can list Western Province and the Stormers amongst his former clubs, where he played in in finals of both the Currie Cup and Super Rugby.
De Villiers is the ‘Boks’ most-capped centre of all time and, in 2014, he became only the fourth player to reach a century of senior caps for the country, being named as South Africa’s Player of the Year in both 2008 and 2013 in the process.