Will the real De Allende please stand up!

2017-11-11 08:00
Damian de Allende (Gallo Images)

Cape Town - Flyhalves and loose trios aside, one of the biggest talking points to emerge from Allister Coetzee's team selection for Saturday's Test against Ireland in Dublin was the return of Damian de Allende

The 25-year-old has not started a Test match this year - his last start coming in November 2016 on that dreadful day in Florence when the Boks were embarrassed by Italy. 

In 2017, De Allende has been Coetzee's preferred centre cover off the bench with Jan Serfontein and Jesse Kriel backed at No 12 and No 13, respectively. 

That Serfontein/Kriel partnership has been largely encouraging, but with the former unavailable due to a rather strange club commitment at Montpellier, the door has opened once again for De Allende. 

Coetzee's other options at No 12 were Lukhanyo Am and Francois Venter, and while Am would have been a popular choice despite wearing the No 13 jersey in Super Rugby this year, the backing of De Allende sends the right message. 

Having been on the bench for five of South Africa's six Rugby Championship matches this year, De Allende was next in line and it is right that he has been given the opportunity to start. 

But there are concerns. 

One of Serfontein's major strengths this year has been his physicality, particularly on defence. 

With Elton Jantjies susceptible to the odd slipped tackle, Serfontein's defensive presence has been a comfort to the Boks in the 10/12 channel. 

It is here where De Allende must be sharp on Saturday. His first-time tackling has been a worry over the past couple of seasons, and if he is to stake a claim for the inside centre position for the rest of the tour then he will have to put in a solid showing in that regard. 

Ireland have some big runners, and it is not unreasonable to think that they will be targeting that particular channel when attacking the Boks. 

Then, there is the curious case of De Allende's ball carrying. 

In 2015, De Allende was superb and was named South Africa's Super Rugby Player of the Year while he was also nominated for the SA Rugby Player of the Year. 

It was down largely to his strength with ball in hand. It seemed that every time De Allende got the ball, he would make yards. He proved a difficult man to bring down and as a result his impact on games was massive. 

It boded well for the Springboks heading into the 2015 Rugby World Cup, but the truth is that since then De Allende has not reached the same heights. 

Battles with injury have been one legitimate reason, but now that he is fully fit he needs to rediscover the form that made him one of the most feared centres in world rugby. 

The ability is obviously there - we have all seen it - but De Allende's lack of influence in a Springbok jersey over the past two years has been disappointing. 

He now has a chance to go about putting that right. 

Two years ago the hype surrounding this player suggested the brightest of futures and, hopefully, this is the fresh start that De Allende needs to deliver on all of that promise.

Kick-off on Saturday is at 19:30 SA time.

Follow Sport24's @LloydBurnard on Twitter...



15 Rob Kearney, 14 Andrew Conway, 13 Robbie Henshaw, 12 Bundee Aki, 11 Jacob Stockdale, 10 Johnny Sexton, 9 Conor Murray, 8 CJ Stander, 7 Sean O'Brien, 6 Peter O'Mahony, 5 Devin Toner, 4 Iain Henderson, 3 Tadhg Furlong, 2 Rory Best (captain), 1 Cian Healy

Substitutes: 16 Rob Herring, 17 Dave Kilcoyne, 18 John Ryan, 19 James Ryan, 20 Rhys Ruddock, 21 Kieran Marmion, 22 Joey Carbery, 23 Darren Sweetnam

South Africa

15 Andries Coetzee, 14 Dillyn Leyds, 13 Jesse Kriel, 12 Damian de Allende, 11 Courtnall Skosan, 10 Elton Jantjies, 9 Ross Cronje, 8 Francois Louw, 7 Pieter-Steph du Toit, 6, Siya Kolisi, 5 Lood de Jager, 4 Eben Etzebeth (captain), 3 Coenie Oosthuizen 2 Malcolm Marx, 1 Tendai Mtawarira 

Substitutes: 16 Bongi Mbonambi, 17 Steven Kitshoff, 18 Wilco Louw, 19 Franco Mostert, 20 Uzair Cassiem, 21 Rudy Paige, 22 Handre Pollard, 23 Francois Venter

Read more on:    springboks  |  damian de allende  |  rugby


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