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De Villiers: 'We have to be at our best'


Jean de Villiers

Jean de Villiers

Jean de Villiers

The Irish and South African captains were asked for their opinions of each other from their time together at Munster.

Jean de Villiers and Paul O'Connell each answered through smiles that never left their faces.

"It is the first time that we will be in test matches as captains against each other," said Springbok captain Jean de Villiers (right).

"There is respect. There is care. There could even be love.

"He is someone that I really respect, having played with him. I can call him a friend.

"I think he is a fantastic rugby player, first of all, and, secondly, an unbelievable person off the field as well.

"He is just a good man."

The feeling of close friendship shared will be put to one side for 80 minutes as two friends tear each other apart for the greater love for their country.

"We have to be at our best," warned de Villiers.

On a personal level, the centurion has been "rejuvenated" by the captaincy and the new kids, like those either side of him - Handre Pollard and Jan Serfontein.

"Sometimes the mind feels 21 years. The body is still 33," he stated.

"It's always nice when you can do something that you really love with guys that you enjoy being around.

"That's the feeling within the squad. When you're in a sticky situation in a game, that pulls you through, the camaraderie, the love, in a way, for each other.

"I have been enjoying it a hell of a lot in the twillight years of my career."

De Villiers will carry on to the World Cup where a second winners' medal could crown a colossal career.

"I would like to make it. But, that's 12 months away from now. I am just focusing on this game and this tour."

He deflected suggestions from the South African media gathered that this could be the best Springbok collective in 20 years after the epic victory over the All Blacks last month.

"The thing for us is not what gets said outside the circle of our team," he said.

"It's what we say to each other that counts, how we feel about each other and what the jersey means to us."

The confidence of the Springboks means they spend most of their preparation looking in the mirror at what they can do better.

"It also doesn't matter who we play against" he added.

"It's the way that we prepare that's important.

"It's about the attitude in the way you approach the game and the 80 minutes you play any given Saturday."