De Allende comes of age for Boks
HE CELEBRATED his 23rd birthday on Tuesday and for Damian de Allende, pictured, his selection yesterday on the Springbok bench for Saturday’s Test against Wales is a present that comes at just the right time.
While the Western Province midfielder had a Super Rugby season to remember as he established himself in the Stormers side, and then made his Test debut against Argentina in August, it has been a forgettable period for the former Milnerton High pupil since then.
A knee ligament injury sustained against the Sharks on May 31 meant that De Allende couldn’t feature against Wales in June, and he was on the sidelines until the opening Rugby Championship Test against Argentina. But then fate conspired to make life difficult for him as he was firstly picked out of position at outside centre, and then a freakish rain and hailstorm battered Loftus Versfeld just before kick-off.
So that prevented De Allende from showcasing his passing and running skills, and then he had to deal with the opposite weather effect a week later in Salta, where a heatwave on match day played a part in the Boks just holding off Los Pumas 33-31.
And that was the last we’ve seen of him on a rugby field, as Saru decided that none of the contracted Springboks could play in the latter stages of the Currie Cup.
So, despite De Allende not getting any further game time in the Rugby Championship, he wasn’t allowed to play for WP, and he hasn’t made the bench in the three Tests on the November tour either, with Jan Serfontein continuing to partner captain Jean de Villiers in midfield.
But the Boks have lacked a creative spark on attack, and De Allende will hope to show Meyer exactly what he can offer with ball-inhand if he comes off the bench at the Millennium Stadium this weekend.
With the Bok coach refusing to pick Juan de Jongh, there aren’t many other midfield options outside of De Villiers and Serfontein going into the World Cup, with the situation around Japanbased Jaque Fourie unclear at the moment.
But Meyer believes that De Allende can still make a late charge for a starting position. “Damian is a very bright prospect and he was really brilliant in Super Rugby. We got him involved and unfortunately he got injured (for the Stormers against the Sharks) when he was selected. Then we played him in two games to see what he could do, but he was still not at his best after his injury, so it has been tough for him,” the coach said yesterday.
“He is a great player, and it is a question mark (around him) as he hasn’t played (since August 23), but I had a good one-on-one with him, and I think next year he’s going to be brilliant. He is going to press hard for the starting jersey.
“He’s a great player, and it’s the same with Lwazi (Mvovo), who hasn’t played for quite some time. The way we see it, it is a lot of youngsters that wouldn’t have got the chance to play, and these guys have proven themselves. So, I’m really excited about these guys.”