Jean de Villiers has achieved a lot in his celebrated and colourful career, including being a member of the 2007 World Cup-winning Springbok team.
However, at franchise level, he never quite achieved the success he would have wanted – certainly not when measured against the achievements of the current Stormers.
De Villiers, the most capped centre in South African history, was part of a collection of very talented and impressive players – yet an era when they just never got it over the line at franchise level.
During his first stint with the Stormers, from 2005 to 2009, they never finished higher than fifth in Super Rugby.
In his second term, 2011 to 2015, they got a lot closer – losing semifinalists in 2011 and 2012.
Speaking ahead of the United Rugby Championship Final in Cape Town on Saturday – when the defending-champion Stormers host Irish province Munster – he admitted they got certain key aspects wrong in his time.
De Villiers was unwavering in his belief that the current crop of Stormers have nailed down the way they want to play – which is why they are on the brink of winning back-to-back URC titles.
“Everyone has bought into that,” the former Bok captain told @rugby365com about the confusing and colourful, often gaudy, style of play.
“They are striving to be as good as possible in doing that,” added De Villiers, who is third on the list of most games as captain of South Africa – 37.
He said credit must go to John Dobson and his team for getting that game plan right.
(Article continues below the Jean de Villiers interview …)
“It is not something that just happened overnight,” the 42-year-old said, adding: “It took them a couple of seasons to get right, but they really understand the way they want to play and they execute that really well.
“When the pressure comes on, they don’t go into their shell. They stick with what has worked for them.”
Looking back to his time at the Stormers, he said they had a constant struggle to find their identity.
“[It was a struggle to decide] how do we want to play.
“Do we want to play an expansive game or do we want to revert to a more conservative approach?
“I don’t think we ever got that right.
“It was always kind of in-between and in pressure situations that is what cost us in those big games.”
He admitted they were a collection of fantastic players, but they never managed to play ‘as a team’ towards a single goal.
“I don’t think we ever got that spot on,” De Villiers said, adding: “The current group certainly know how they want to play.”