Rugby Championship

De Allende: We have a long way to go

2015-07-27 11:00
Damian de Allende (Gallo Images)

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 midfield combination.

The duo have spent three matches together and judging by the early signs, the Boks have reason to feel bullish about their prospects.

“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 Saturday.

“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 decent game.”

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.”


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