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    De Allende was 'fitter than ever'

    2017-02-28 08:43

    Lloyd Burnard - Sport24

    Cape Town - The look on Damian de Allende's face when he left the field in the 63rd minute at Newlands on Saturday said it all. 

    Sat upright on the back of a golf cart, he hung his head and closed his eyes. He knew then that he would be out of the game for a long time. 

    Those fears were confirmed on Monday by the Stormers with the news that the Springbok centre would be out of action for 12 weeks as he recovered from a syndesmosis (ankle) injury. 

    It is a massive blow to the Stormers, but the real victim here is De Allende himself. 

    Having stuttered through 2016 and getting nowhere near the form he displayed the year before that, this was supposed to be a big year for the 25-year-old. 

    Ironically, he was named in a 41-man Springbok training camp that will meet from March 5-7 in Johannesburg. 

    De Allende may be fit by the time the Boks play their first Test against France on June 10, but he would have virtually no rugby under his belt this year.

    It is hard to see Allister Coetzee going down that road with the likes of Rohan Janse van Rensburg, Andre Esterhuizen and Jan Serfontein all expected to battle for the No 12 jersey in De Allende's absence. 

    The Stormers, meanwhile, have options at No 12 in the form of Dan Kriel, Huw Jones, Dan du Plessis and EW Viljoen. 

    "He was in great nick ... the fittest he's ever been," Stormers skills coach Paul Feeney said on Monday.

    "You saw some of his touches when he was on and he always got us good front-foot ball. 

    "He gives players around him confidence. It's a massive loss, especially with Juan (De Jongh) also out in the midfield."

    But Feeney was looking for the positives.

    "You've got to box on and there'll be someone else who will step up," he said.

    "I feel gutted for Damian but I feel excited for somebody else to get an opportunity. There will be plenty of injuries this year.

    "We've got some good young centres. Dan du Plessis had a good couple of pre-season games and was it was tight whether he got the nod on the weekend.

    "We've got Dan Kriel as well, who came on. I'm excited. I think we've got plenty of depth. We've got the athletes here and I think they're all working hard.

    "You need competition for places within your group to be successful and I think we're gradually growing that competition over all areas of the park."

    The Stormers host the Jaguares at Newlands on saturday. Kick-off is at 17:15.

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