Talented Stormers centre Damian de Allende might be the first post-squad announcement injury blow suffered by the Springboks ahead of the June matches against a World XV, Wales and Scotland.
De Allende was one of seven uncapped players named in the 36 man national squad by Bok coach Heyneke Meyer last night, and it was no secret that Meyer was giving serious consideration to starting him against the World XV at his home ground of Newlands when the international season kicks off on this coming Saturday.
However, Meyer was informed late on Saturday following the squad announcement that De Allende had injured knee ligaments during the Stormers’ nailbiting 21-19 Vodacom Super Rugby win over the Cell C Sharks in Durban. De Allende was replaced in the second half. He was limping noticeably as he made his way to the Stormers’ flight out of Durban on Sunday, and again when he arrived in Cape Town.
It is not known at this stage how serious the injury is, but Meyer admitted that he is concerned about it. De Allende will be assessed by Bok team doctor Craig Roberts at the team hotel later on Sunday as the Bok management starts the dreaded process of assessing the latest injury situation after the weekend round of matches. Almost inevitably players get pulled out during the opening days of the build-up to the first international match of the new season, and it is feared that De Allende may be one of the unfortunate players on that list this year.
As it was explained by the Bok management following a press conference at the team hotel on Sunday, De Allende could be out for up to two weeks if his ailment is diagnosed as a grade 1 ligament tear. However if it is found to be more serious, he could find himself missing out on the June series altogether.
Meyer said at the Cape Town press conference that he was concerned about the exhaustion that was apparent in the last round of Vodacom Super Rugby matches before the June break, but said he was confident that the players would be reinvigorated once they pull on the green and gold jersey.
“It is a concern, but the other nations are in the same boat, and we will just have to manage the players wisely,” said Meyer.
“From my past experience the players do experience an energy lift once they rejoin the Springboks, but we will have to monitor the situation closely.”
Meyer said that he felt he had the right mix of youth and experience in the extended squad, and while some newcomers would be mostly gaining experience of the Bok culture over the next few weeks and might not be seeing that much onfield action, there could be two or three new players who could find themselves in the starting line-up.
De Allende is believed to be one of those players lined up for a start, so it will be a cruel blow if, as expected, he gets ruled out of the World XV game, which Meyer sees as an important stepping stone to the two test series against Wales that starts in Durban the following week.