Jean de Villiers – Dodging the danger

2012-10-23 09:54

Jean de Villiers is the most capped Springbok centre of all time, and a worthy successor to the legendary John Smit as Bok captain. Robbie Fleck, a former Springbok centre and current backline coach of the Stormers, reveals a few inner circle secrets about Jean’s game.

1. Major defender
Jean is big (1.90m tall and 103kg) and strong. Defensively he is sharp, thanks to his speed and good technical skills.

He can shadow the attacker on the inside and pull him down by moving in low and taking his legs out.

During the Vodacom Super Rugby season, the defensive record of the Stormers was one of the best of all the franchises – partially attributable to Jean’s organisation of the whole defensive union, as well as his rock-solid individual defensive effort.

2. Winning pace

He is deceptively fast.

Jean is a more suitable outside centre than inside centre, as he possesses the raw pace needed.

Before the start of the season, the Stormers did some speed exercises and Jean was the quickest – doing the 40m dash in 4.6 to 4.8 seconds.

He even beat speedster Gio Aplon.

hroughout his career in the Bok jersey, he has consistently been among the fastest three players when the team does speed drills.

3. Game geometry
His awareness of which running lines to use helps him to slice through the slightest of gaps.

Jean cannot sidestep at pace – as Christian Cullen of New Zealand or Joe Roff of Australia did when they were at the top of their game – but he has a natural and excellent outside break.

4. Artful Dodger

Jean drifts very well and then straightens the line superbly.

He demonstrated his speed and that drift with a recent try against England when he received the ball from JP Pietersen.

He got over the line in spite of the close attention of three defenders. Not many players would have been able to score that try.

5. Taking the lead
The Stormers and Springboks’ captain’s armband was given to him because he earned the respect of his team mates and management.

He is an inspirational captain who leads from the front. When the team is demoralised, he will ask management to go easy on the players.

But if they have been slack, he will tell them that they need to get their act together. His timing of what and when to say something is impeccable.


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