Ireland captain Paul O’Connell has fond memories of South Africa counterpart Jean de Villiers’ one-season stint at Munster in 2009-10.
The pair will lead their countries in this evening’s Guinness Series Test and the Ireland and the Lions lock yesterday recalled the Springbok centre’s impact on the province before he returned home to enhance his 2011 World Cup selection chances after just 23 appearances.
“He is a great guy, I became very friendly with him. I thought he was a brilliant player for us in a lot of ways,” O’Connell said. “He was probably dropped for the first time in his career with us and to have such a superstar of the game with us in Munster and see how he was dropped ... I remember when we went to Perpignan game, away, he came off the bench and scored an incredible try.
“He was just great with younger players, very enthusiastic, a great trainer, very committed. He is still in contact with a lot of the Munster players.
“You see the respect he has in South Africa rugby and the South Africa team as captain now. They all seem to look up to him and that’s the way he was when he was with us.”
© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved