Durban - Centre Damian de Allende says he’s been inspired by Springbok captain and team-mate Jean de Villiers’ resilience and work ethic during his road to recovery.
De Allende will partner De Villiers in the latter’s first Test start since a serious knee injury against Wales last November.
De Villiers suffered what seemed to be a career-ending injury, but has worked hard over the past eight months to give himself the best opportunity to earn his place in the national squad ahead of the Rugby World Cup.
He’s done enough to earn a start against Argentina this weekend, and this has motivated De Allende.
“Jean de Villiers has definitely been my role model and biggest mentor,” De Allende told MyPlayers.co.za. “We spent a lot of time at rehab together, and watching him put in so much work and effort was inspiring. The fact that he’s been able to work his way back into the Springbok team is motivating.
“He’s a great guy, on and off the field. He is always there to offer advice or assistance.”
Meanwhile, De Allende will start a fourth straight match in the No 12 jersey when the Springboks tackle Argentina. He admits that inside centre is his preferred position.
“I do enjoy 12 more than 13,” said De Allende. “At outside centre, the defensive roles and decision-making is a bit different. But I’m looking to improve all round, so I can adapt where I’m needed.
“I got to test myself against two of the best centres in the world when we played against the All Blacks. Ma’a Nonu and Conrad Smith have been consistent over the years… and I was happy with the way things went. I believe I had a decent game, and I hope to continue improving.”
Saturday’s Test at Kings Park kicks off at 17:05.
15 Willie le Roux, 14 Jesse Kriel, 13 Jean de Villiers (captain), 12 Damian de Allende, 11 Bryan Habana, 10 Handre Pollard, 9 Ruan Pienaar, 8 Schalk Burger, 7 Marcell Coetzee, 6 Heinrich Brussow, 5 Lood de Jager, 4 Eben Etzebeth, 3 Vincent Koch, 2 Bismarck du Plessis, 1 Tendai Mtawarira
Substitutes: 16 Adriaan Strauss, 17 Trevor Nyakane, 18 Marcel van der Merwe, 19 Pieter-Steph du Toit, 20 Siya Kolisi, 21 Cobus Reinach, 22 Pat Lambie, 23 Lwazi Mvovo
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