De Allende still has a way to go
Cape Town - The Stormers will be grateful for a Super Rugby bye this weekend, but their defeat to the Waratahs at Newlands on Saturday will sting.
Coach Robbie Fleck said after that match, which saw the Stormers reduced to 14-men for most of the second half after Leolin Zas was sent off, that his side had produced some of their best rugby this season.
The Stormers did show a lot of fight once they were down to 14 men, and that they scored with seven minutes remaining to take the lead is testament to that, but two defensive errors in the first half would prove critical.
Both of those tries came through the midfield channel, with Damian de Allende missing a tackle on Bernard Foley for Kurtley Beale's opening try while Israel Folau burst straight through the De Allende/Jean-Luc du Plessis channel for the Waratahs' second.
De Allende has made just four appearances since his return from a serious ankle injury - two from the bench and two in the starting line-up - but he is yet to find his best form.
Without the distraction of Sevens, the Stormers can now focus on getting De Allende back to his best, and the sooner that happens the better it will be for Fleck.
According to the Super Rugby website, De Allende has carried the ball 29 times in his 225 Super Rugby minutes so far this season and made just two clean breaks.
But it is not with ball in hand where the statistics look worst for De Allende.
The Bok centre has made 16 tackles, but he has missed seven, leaving him with a tackle success rate of just 69.6%.
It would be foolish to think for a second that De Allende had lost any of the spark that he displayed on the Super Rugby and international stage last year, and Fleck emphasised after the Waratahs loss that an element of patience needed to be exercised.
"Damian is working hard. He’s still getting back to full fitness and he showed some moments there," Fleck said.
"He’s still got a long way to go to where he was at the end of the World Cup, but that’s to be expected.
"He’s come off a big injury. It’s just a matter of time in the saddle for him and you’ll start seeing some good play from him."
With De Allende having pulled out of Sevens contention for the rest of the year, he can now focus solely on the Stormers and re-establishing himself as the best No 12 in the country.
The Stormers are next in action when they travel to Singapore to take on the Sunwolves on May 14.