De Allende hopeful on Sevens future
Cape Town - When Blitzboks coach Neil Powell announced his extended squad for the 2015/16 World Series back in November last year, the name of Damian de Allende stood out.
The Stormers and Springbok centre has carved a reputation for himself as one of the most devastatingly physical midfielders in world rugby, and his inclusion in the Sevens set-up was good news for South Africa's Olympic Games bid in Brazil this year.
But an ankle injury while on club duty at Japanese club Kintetsu Liners meant that De Allende spent close to four months on the sidelines.
That has ruled him out of the first 7 tournaments in this season's World Series, and he will also not be a part of this weekend's tournament in Singapore.
With only two more tournaments left before the Olympics - in Paris and London from May 14-22 - it is hard to see De Allende having enough time to convince Powell that he should be on the plane to Rio.
De Allende has only just returned from injury and was given 35 minutes off the bench in his side's comfortable Super Rugby win over the Sunwolves on Friday night, but he has still not given up on representing the Blitzboks this season.
"I think they still want me to play
there and I would like to try it out but I won’t go there half-halfheartedly ... so I
want to work on my fitness a bit more here," De Allende said from the Stormers' training complex in Bellville on Monday.
"If I feel like I can compete in a
Sevens tournament with that level of fitness and skill then I’ll give it a
"But I think if you go there not up to standard then you get exposed very
"We’ll see how the next few weeks go and if all goes well then I think I
might have a chance of playing in a tournament or two, but if I don’t feel
comfortable then I won’t rush into things."
De Allende said he saw himself playing in the backline in Sevens, but added that there had been no decisions yet on what his best position might be.
Having had a stellar 2015 that ended in the Springbok World Cup failure, De Allende was immediately off to Japan after the tournament.
Now just 24-years-old, there were already concerns over De Allende's work load before his Sevens interest.
Getting injured in Japan, he says, maybe wasn't the worst thing in the world.
"I think getting injured at that time maybe helped me in my
career, to get away from rugby and enjoy myself off the field," he said.
"I did really
enjoy my time off but it’s nice to be back and I’m 100% focused again.
"If I came back without having a rest I think I might have
struggled a bit."
The Stormers take on the Lions in Johannesburg on Saturday. Kick-off is at 19:15.