Victor Matfield 'has only respect' for Peter de Villiers
He was against his initial appointment for South Africa, but Victor Matfield has applauded coach Peter de Villiers after his resignation.
De Villiers resigned almost immediately from the Springboks' coaching position after his side's 9-11 loss to Australia in the Rugby World Cup quarter-final in Wellington on Sunday.
Veteran lock Matfield - who has played his last Test for the Springboks after retiring - revealed it was his disappointment with de Villiers' appointment that had led him to move to French club Toulon in 2008, but that it was also the wily coach who ultimately forced him to return.
"I was in France when he got the job - I went to France because he got the job," Matfield revealed.
"But I came back after spending one hour with him. I decided, 'This is a guy I'd love to work with'. I'm very happy about my decision. He's an unbelievable guy and I've just got respect for him."
Matfield said that while de Villiers' different approach to coaching did not always sit well with the senior players, his ability to adapt made for an enjoyable environment.
"I think when he came in he got in with a lot of senior players that had a style in their head that they wanted to play," he said.
"I don't think any coach would have been able to change their mind, (except) maybe if he dropped 80 percent of the guys they could."
"He accepted that, he worked with that, he always gave everything we wanted, he created an unbelievable environment for us to perform in. We had a great four years with him."
The 200cm-Matfield, 34, who decided to hang up the rugby boots after a remarkable 109 Test matches, said rugby was too much of a passion for him to let go completely and hinted at a different role within the South African setup in years to come.
"I'm heading back in February with (South African television channel) Supersport. I'll also be involved with coaching," he said.
"It'll be my dream to coach the Springboks and win the Rugby World Cup as a coach."
"Rugby is my life and I love rugby. I can't see myself staying out of the game long."
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