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Axing got me fired up - De Villiers

Munster's big money recruit Jean de Villiers has revealed that getting dumped from the first team has helped him turn a corner in his Reds career.

Since losing his place at home to Perpignan last month, the Springbok centre has scored three tries in three games. "I struggled at the beginning when I arrived in Ireland and my form has been patchy," he admitted.

"It didn't help that the team weren't playing well as a unit to begin with.

"But being dropped to the bench for the two games against Perpignan helped me to turn the corner.

"Now it's all about digging in for the team and working hard, but I feel much closer now to where I was as a player before I arrived.

"It has been a difficult December and start to January, especially with the weather. My body is used to starting pre-season training at this time of year. I got a picture message from one of my former team mates at the Stormers the other day showing the temperature gauge in his car.

"It was 39 degrees, which is in stark contrast to the weather we've been having in Limerick. But all the other players have been fantastic and have really helped me. From a Munster point of view, the Heineken Cup didn't start off in the way we wanted it to with defeat at Northampton.

"Our victory in Perpignan was the best game we have played this season.

"It was a really strong collective performance -- a great team effort. It was a performance that revealed a lot to me about the Munster culture."

"Paul O'Connell is a great leader, but he gets so much support from the other guys around him as well. Then there is Munster's 16th man, their incredible fans."

Irish Independent