Jane Lynch has praised ''loyal and protective'' Naya Rivera and described her tragic death as a ''great loss''.

The 60-year-old actress has paid tribute to her former 'Glee' co-star - who drowned while out boating with her five-year-old son Josey in July - and remembered her as a ''fierce force of nature''.

Speaking on TV Show 'People', Jane said: ''The greatest thing about Naya Rivera was that she would be the first one to speak up if something was happening that wasn't right, that wasn't fair, that was cruel.''

Hailing Naya as ''loyal and protective'', she added: ''If you were a friend of hers, you knew it, you could feel it.

''Just such a fierce force of nature that girl was. It's a great loss. It's a great loss for all of us.''

The 'Weakest Link' host - who portrayed cheerleading coach Sue Sylvester opposite Naya as cheerleader Santana Lopez - previously recalled how easily her co-star was able to learn her lines for the show.

She said: ''I think that one of the things that kind of got lost when we were doing the show was what a force she was because there were so many talented people. She was one of those people - she wasn't in every scene, but when she was ... she just blew everybody away.

''I had three-page monologues, so did she.

''It took me a week to get mine, she would do them right off the bat. And they would be changing them and she had no problem with it.''

And she praised the fact that Naya viewed her ongoing storyline of her character coming to terms with her sexuality throughout the show as very important.

She said: ''She was a great advocate and loved the fact that she and Heather Morris had the lesbian relationship on the show and how much that meant to so many young people.''