Johannesburg - They have been hailed as the
Springbok stars of the future but inside centre Damian de Allende believes his
partnership with Jesse Kriel needs more time together to grow into a formidable
The duo have spent three matches together
and judging by the early signs, the Boks have reason to feel bullish about their
“Over the past two weeks we got to know
each other well and we are trying to learn about each other and run off each
other,” De Allende said after the Springboks’ defeat to the All Blacks on
“We still have a long way to go, we are
both still young and we want to run with the ball in hand and hopefully we can
carry on with it.”
Finding a useful centre combination has
been one of Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer’s biggest conundrums with the
midfield changing at regular intervals since 2012.
The injury to captain and stalwart Jean de
Villiers in last year’s end-of-year-tour compounded Meyer’s selection woes.
His decision to shift Kriel from fullback
to outside centre to partner with De Allende seems to have been a stroke of
genius and a remedy to at least one of the chronic problems.
It could even be a headache of a different
kind for the World Cup when De Villiers makes his return to the fold.
Meyer will have to decide whether he should
persist with the fresh-faced combination or bring in the old head of De
Villiers, whose leadership and experience adds immense value.
Although they are vying for the same
position, De Allende has singled out De Villiers as a mentor and a role model
in the national set-up.
“It was awesome to see him (De Villiers)
come back from the long-term injury and we still keep in touch and he gives me
a lot of motivation and confidence,” De Allende said.
“You are going to compete for a position
wherever you go, and Jean understands that and he helps me no matter what. He
is a great guy on and off the field and I can learn a lot from him.”
The De Allende-Kriel combination passed a
major test when they more than held their own against world-record New Zealand
midfield combo of Ma'a Nonu and Conrad Smith.
“It is exciting for us, Ma’a Nonu and
Conrad Smith have been world-class players for the past 10 years now, so it was
a privilege to play against them,” De Allende said.
“You always want to test yourself against
the best but I think we did well against them tonight and I thought we had a
The Springboks may have suffered their
second consecutive defeat, De Allende believed the team would be able to remedy
some of the mistakes in their two Tests against Argentina before the start of
the Rugby World Cup in England in less than two months’ time.
“We need to work on our finishing, I think
when you are playing against a quality side like New Zealand and Australia and
you don’t take all your opportunities it can come back and bite you,” he said.
“We are looking to improve every week and
we have another two Tests against Argentina and I think we can make massive improvements
there and take two big steps forward before going to the World Cup.”