Johannesburg - Springbok midfielder Damian de Allende has admitted he is struggling to find the form of 2015 that made him a regular in the Test side.
According to SuperSport, De Allende was one of the players who came under a lot of criticism following the Boks loss to Ireland in the first Test in Cape Town, but is set to get a second chance to redeem himself when the two sides meet in the second Castle Lager Incoming Tours outing at Emirates Airline Park on Saturday.
And in the process, De Allende has underlined the fact that talk is cheap, and wants to be part of a massive statement of intent from the Boks when they meet the Irish again this weekend.
But he is hoping that by getting on the field again, he finds the form that has been eluding him thus far since returning from injury, and the one-on-one dangerous attacking style that has made him part of the Springbok team.
“Ja it has been tough,” De Allende said when asked about his form.
“ I feel personally in my game I’m still struggling for a bit of confidence, I feel I’m getting better week by week. It is very tough to come back from injury.
“I didn’t think it would be this tough, but I’m trying to work my way back from injury. I am trying to be as positive as I can, I’m trying to work my way back to the form of last year and hopefully in the next few weeks I can start getting back to what I was doing last year.”
De Allende is certain the Boks need to fire better than they did at Ellis Park. A poor forwards performance didn’t help, and their problems were compounded by some tactical naivity by the halfbacks, as well as a desire to run in the wrong areas of the field. And the only way to fix what happened at Newlands, according to the midfielder, is to respond strongly this weekend.
“I think we have to fix a lot, especially execution in the wide channels. We got a lot of balls out there, and we created a lot of space but we forced the ball outside too early. I think if we do see the space, it is just a case of keeping the ball in the wide channel and not using it stupidly in the wide channel and taking the pressure off them completely,” he explained.
“We are all desperate, we all need to make a statement on last week’s performance. We are trying to put that behind us but we are also using that as a motivation. We are trying to improve on our defence as a team as a whole. We are trying to improve on our linespeed because that is part of the new key to defence nowdays – to try and take away space. We’ve tried it again and again every week.
“We’ve lacked confidence at times but today was a lot better for me. As the weeks get on I get more and more confident in that role.”
With that in mind De Allende believes the decision-making needs to improve significantly this weekend.
“Yes it does – especially when to kick the ball and when not to kick the ball and when to play the game in the right areas in the field. Even though they had two numbers short at times, I still feel we played too much rugby in our half where we could have taken the space behind them and put them under pressure in their half. This week we need to play in the right areas of the field. When we get that chance to go, we must go but if we are in our own half, we need to make better decisions when to keep the ball and when to play.”
The stakes are high for the Boks this weekend, with records at stake that they certainly don’t want to lose, as well as the expectation of the nation on their shoulders.
And only players like De Allende can make the changes on the field, find the form he needs and play as a unit if they want to win.
At least they know where the problems were. The question is if a week is enough to fix them?
Read the story on SuperSport