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De Villiers happy with progress

Peter de Villiers has described 2010 as "one of the best years of my life" despite the past 12 months being arguably the toughest of his three-year tenure.

After the Springboks rounded off their Grand Slam tour to Great Britain and Ireland with a 20-26 loss to the Barbarians at Twickenham on Saturday, De Villiers - who has faced mounting criticism on and off the field over the course of the season - saw his record for the year eventually read played 14 with eight wins and six losses.

"If one looks at the scoreboard from the past year then you all have the right to be critical. The scoreboard did not look good, but it was a good year because we pulled together through adversity," he said. "I now understand each individual better. It was a very good year, one of the best of my life."

The 53-year-old praised the younger players for the way they stood out during the tour, with 13 regulars missing through injury.

De Villiers added: "We have been able to blood some new players in Test match rugby as well as give some young players an exposure to the Springbok environment that'll stand our rugby in good stead in 2011 and beyond.

"The pool of capped Springboks in serious contention for selection next year has been widened by this tour, while the hidden benefit is that we have more than a dozen senior players who weren't on tour and who have had the advantage of an extended rest period."

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