Rugby Championship

De Allende continues his fall from glory

2016-09-27 17:44
Damian de Allende (Gallo Images)

Cape Town - Listening to Allister Coetzee's press conference in Johannesburg on Monday, Damian de Allende could have been forgiven for thinking he had worked his way back into the Springbok plans. 

Coetzee was asked about his decision not to call up the highly-rated Lions centre Rohan Janse van Rensburg to the squad for the last two remaining Rugby Championship Tests against Australia and New Zealand. 

His response: Why would we call up Janse van Rensburg when we have a player with all of those physical attributes in De Allende?

Just four hours later, news broke that De Allende had been released from the Bok squad to take up his place in Western Province's must-win Currie Cup clash against Boland at Newlands on Friday night. 

There is no doubt that De Allende is struggling for form - he has been ever since he returned from a lengthy ankle injury in Super Rugby this year. 

But what makes his continued omission all the more interesting is that Coetzee is backing Juan de Jongh in the No 12 position. 

Think back to Coetzee's time at the Stormers. 

Whenever he had De Allende and De Jongh both fit, De Allende would start at inside centre with De Jongh on his outside. 

What has changed? And why does Coetzee now see De Jongh as a more fancied option at 12 than De Allende? 

The easy answer is form, but it is not like De Jongh has blown anyone away since occupying the jersey. 

Coetzee spoke on Monday about the "energy" that De Jongh has brought to the position. 

But although it seems like this Bok backline has been lacking an element of physicality throughout the Rugby Championship, that does not mean that De Allende deserves to start on Saturday. 

He is not at his best and that is there for all to see. 

As the cries for the Boks to be expansive continue, De Allende has been criticised for his "crash and bash" approach. 

Lionel Mapoe, De Allende's initial midfield partner at the beginning of the Coetzee era, was perhaps most hurt by that one-dimensional play. 

The difference is that, this time last year, De Allende was running straight and hard at defenders and beating them. Now, for whatever reason, he isn't. 

He seems to have lost that injection. 

As a result, his exclusion from the Green and Gold is not surprising and certainly justified, but it is still bizarre to think that the man keeping him out is not a No 12 by trade. 

Just last week De Jongh was named in the WP side that travelled to Griquas. He started in the No 13 jersey, outside Huw Jones. 

That Coetzee is now picking him at No 12 ahead of De Allende shows just how far De Allende has fallen. 

It is a pity, because right now the Boks need their best to be at their best. 

The De Allende of old is nowhere to be seen.


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