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De Allende shone in adversity

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If sticking out like a beacon amidst a thick “fog” is a fine way to remind of your credentials, then Damian de Allende looks increasingly assured of the Springbok inside centre jersey at the outset of the international season….by Rob Houwing, Sport24 chief writer

Damian de Allende
Damian de Allende

The Stormers were ruthlessly dismantled by the Brumbies in their Super Rugby finals series match at Newlands on Saturday, but one of very few positives for the home side was De Allende’s gallant attempt to light a home-town fire.

He was almost alone – certainly among a particularly listless and blundering backline – in looking properly up for it against the Australian foes.

The 23-year-old posed consistent problems to the Brumbies’ defence with ball in hand, making some decisive clean breaks and using his considerable muscularity when needed in contact situations.

On a day when the collectively economical weight of the Stormers back division was unfortunately exposed, his 101kg frame was a notable exception, even if we also saw some reminders that his defence remains a work in progress and he is prone to concentration-related or technical lapses there.

Courtesy of another energetic showing from De Allende – in keeping with a pattern virtually all season – his personal tournament statistics only blossomed despite the relative horror show going on around him.

He is easily the most striking South African presence (and there aren’t many) across the main attack-related departments in Super Rugby, and emerged from Saturday as now clear-cut leader for defenders beaten.

He closes his campaign on a tally of 76, eight ahead of Waratahs’ fullback kingpin Israel Folau, who will try to make up the gap in the home semi-final against the Highlanders and perhaps beyond it to the showpiece.

De Allende also lies a pleasing joint third on 26 for clean breaks – only four behind leader Waisake Naholo, the Highlanders-based wing flier.

He also sneaks top-10 berths – each time in 10th itself — for carries (156) and offloads (24) as the lone South African flag-carrier in those categories.

These are all figures not to be under-estimated in another season where perceptions only balloon that SA rugby is generally bankrupt for cutting-edge, ball-in-hand backline play.

It should make De Allende pretty hot favourite to start the Bok itinerary next month at the influential post of inside centre, at least until such time as rehabilitating captain Jean de Villiers (who can also play effectively at No 13) is back in the mix.

The Stormers youngster must be dying for a green-and-gold crack at twelve: his only two starts for the Boks thus far have been in the more distant channel – a role to which he is considerably less familiar — in the difficult pair of matches against Argentina in the 2014 Castle Rugby Championship.

Overlooking De Allende at inside centre right now would really be to miss a diamond among the depressing dust.

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8 COMMENTS

  1. What an enigma this guy is to me.
    Stats are out of this world. I love his breaks, his show and go. Same too his size.
    Given all that why did the Stormers backline with him just not fire?
    Does he lack in distributive department?
    Does he lack finishing?
    I don’t know so thats why I’m putting this out there – guy confuses me.

  2. While I am not a De Allende fan, he he and boy can I talk about that Missed tackle count. Wait guys, before you slaughter me. He has been our Ma’a Nonu. Most reliable 12 around. Forget JDV, Steyn. The real deal. He has the dimensions to excel abroad and on form will need to have that 12 jumper on the first Bok game when fit. Allow him the chance. If he fails, judge him then. However. The Springbok captain is a 12 and unless he is moved to 13, he will be fit and ready to go next month.

    You may all be disappointed to see de Allende on the bench or something. That’s how the ball rolls sadly. We await and see. For DAMIAN, what a season and kudos to him.

  3. @BC – Milner-Skudder: He was quite good this season, only youngster from last year that improved actually what I could see…made 153 carriers, 25 clean breaks, 73 defenders beaten, 13 handling errors, 14 lose ball collected, missed tackles was 30 thou but passes was 82, tackles made 112 and turnovers 12…

    I am really happy he has grown a bit this year hope he keeps on developing and sure Meyer will work on that defense, if he can get that right he will be a monster in a time to come, if he is not already…

  4. He has Bunny. Wonder who we will credit for the development and amazing growth of the player. He could be a star for years to come.

  5. Ja this is a nice problem for the coach to have… I wonder why we are so married to our onfield skippers… it never used to be an issue…

  6. I’m not wise after the fact, but I nominated Die Ellende (for other teams) close to the start of his career as our next backline star.
    How this guy gets through tackles and over the advantage line is just amazing.
    Now for the Bok defence coach to dig in.

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