Cape Town - Springbok captain Jean de Villiers has praised coach Heyneke Meyer after the Boks ended their European tour unbeaten.
Meyer and his coaching staff were under pressure after a disappointing Rugby Championship campaign which saw the Boks finish third, only ahead of newcomers Argentina.
Those results, compounded by a rugby-mad public demanding a more attractive style, put immense pressure on the Springbok mentor.
However, the Boks showed true grit on their European tour with three consecutive wins over Ireland (16-12), Scotland (21-10) and England (16-15) to finish off their season on a high.
And De Villiers lauded his coach for the "people-oriented" approach he adopted.
"Heyneke put a lot of faith in me by offering me the captaincy and he supported me immensely," De Villiers told Die Burger's website.
"One thing nobody can take away from Heyneke is that he's incredibly passionate about Springbok rugby. He cares for each and every individual and as long as that's the case, the players will keep on playing for him."
De Villiers also singled out his team's defence (they only conceded one try on tour) as a true reflection of their character.
"We pride ourselves on our defence," he told AFP. "From a defensive point
of view, I think we are up there with the best, if not the best. We've
conceded one try in three games on this tour.
"The attitude and the commitment the guys have shown, that is something you cannot coach," he added.