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Ken Borland



Boks fitter than ever to do justice to up-tempo hopes – De Allende 0

Posted on April 10, 2017 by Ken

 

Centre Damian de Allende said on Wednesday that the Springboks have focused on being fitter than ever this year in order to do justice to the more high-tempo game plan most people are hoping they implement in 2017.

With the Lions being the country’s most successful Super Rugby side, there has been pressure on the Springboks to emulate their expansive, up-tempo style of play, but as De Allende pointed out, the groundwork has to be laid for that in terms of fitness and training.

“It’s tough to play that way if physically you’re not there. You also have to train that way and for a lot of seasons teams have wanted to play that way, but we haven’t trained like that.

“But this year we’ve all been striving for that, the plan is to make our play more dynamic, and our fitness levels have improved immensely. At the start of the season I was probably the fittest I’ve ever been.

“The Stormers are now training like that, we’re not perfect yet, but we’ve come a long way  and we’ve scored some great tries, even from our own 22. We’re still getting better,” De Allende said.

The 25-year-old said he hopes the new international season sees the Springboks all on the same page.

“Every Super Rugby franchise is heading in the same direction and once we all join the Springboks, I hope we’re all on the same page, we should all have the same fitness levels. We’ve changed our mindset a lot and I hope we can all combine better,” he said.

De Allende is still in a moon boot following his ankle injury, but is hopeful that the latter half of May will see his return to action.

 

Boks need to cut out the stupid stuff – De Allende 0

Posted on June 16, 2016 by Ken

 

Springbok centre Damian de Allende said on Tuesday that the team needs to cut out the “stupid” stuff on Saturday if they are to beat Ireland at Ellis Park and stay alive in the three-Test series.

A tactically naïve Springbok team went down 26-20 to a 14-man Ireland side last weekend in Cape Town, playing frankly dumb rugby that saw them frenetically just try to throw the ball out wide without drawing the defence or worrying about what area of the field they were playing from. De Allende said they have learnt their lesson from that debacle.

“We need to fix a lot of things this week, especially our execution out wide. We need to use the inside balls as well, but we tried to force it outside all the time and go too early. We want to get the ball wide but we mustn’t be stupid about it.

“It’s about decision-making, when to keep the ball and when not to, you need to play in the right areas. We played too much in our own half, sometimes you need to put the ball in the space behind the defence and put your opponents under pressure,” De Allende said after training on Tuesday.

The Springboks only cut through the Irish defensive line seven times at Newlands, two times fewer than Ireland managed even though they were understandably defence-orientated after being reduced to 14 men for the last hour. De Allende said the Springboks were still focusing on targeting space better.

“There aren’t major changes to our game plan with Allister Coetzee as the new coach, we still want to play with the South African mentality of being physical, but we also want to recognise the space on the outside and not just try to go over people,” De Allende said.

The 24-year-old, who earned his 14th cap in Cape Town, admitted that he is currently out of form having missed most of the SuperRugby season due to injury.

“It’s been difficult, I’m still struggling for a bit of confidence and it’s been very tough coming back from injury, I didn’t think it would be this tough. But I hope in the next few weeks that I will be back to my form of last year.

“The key for me is to be looking up and to be aware of the space, give the players on the outside even better space and bring the forwards into the game more as well. We all need to make a statement after last week and the best way to do that is to increase our line speed. That’s the new key nowadays, to attack the space quicker and it went a lot better for me today on the training field,” De Allende said.

 

Damian de Allende: The new face of the Springbok backline 0

Posted on August 13, 2014 by Ken

 

Coach Heyneke Meyer believes Damian de Allende can bring a “new dimension” to Springbok backline play, but the modest centre is promising no revolution himself.

De Allende is very much the modern backline player – big, strong and quick – standing 1.89m tall, weighing 104kg and fast enough to play on the wing for the Stormers, and also skilful enough to create many tries for his team-mates with his deft offloads.

“He’s a big guy but he’s skilful as well, he has the soft touches, runs beautiful lines and gets the ball away. I think he can bring a new dimension to our backline and I feel he can be superb at 13,” Meyer said on Wednesday after announcing De Allende would make his debut against Argentina at Loftus Versfeld on Saturday.

The player himself was reticent to talk about all his skills.

“I don’t know about skills, but I know Heyneke wants a physical presence in midfield. We want to play direct rugby and earn the right to go wide,” De Allende said.

Despite playing just once before at outside centre in his senior career – for Western Province against the Blue Bulls in a Currie Cup match last year – De Allende is relatively unfazed about wearing the number 13 jersey on his Test debut.

“It does make my debut more challenging, but I’ll have Jean de Villiers on my inside and it will be very exciting. I’ve had the one game at 13 at a high level and, although number 12 is my best position, playing outside centre will be just about making the right decision at the right time. I need to identify space on the outside and try and get behind the defence,” De Allende said.

The 22-year-old probably has the Varsity Cup to thank for his rapid rise to the international stage. He only started to take rugby seriously at the age of 15 and, going to the unfashionable, in rugby terms, Milnerton High School possibly explains why he was missed by the Western Province Craven Week selectors. But his coach, Hein Kriek, pushed him to go to the provincial U19 trials and he was snapped up by the  team which would win their age-group Currie Cup in 2010.

A stint at Alan Zondagh’s academy followed, from where he played for Hamiltons, before UCT snapped him up in 2012 for the Varsity Cup and he was then able to star on national TV, showing his attacking and defensive skills to great effect.

“The Varsity Cup helped a lot, it gave me some TV time, and then Allister Coetzee and Robbie Fleck moved me to inside centre,” De Allende said.

The former opening bowler for Western Province U18 is clearly not just the sort of one-dimensional battering ram South African rugby is trying to move away from. The fact that his biggest inspiration is the diminutive Gio Aplon says it all.

“I really look up to Gio, he’s not the biggest but he’s a phenomenal player and he has a massive heart,” De Allende said.

The son of Spanish descendants said the emotion of playing for the Springboks will be “a bit overwhelming” on Saturday.

“Playing for the Springboks is every rugby player’s dream, it’s one of the most unique teams in the world, more diverse than many others,” De Allende said.

His mother, father and brother will be in the stands at Loftus Versfeld to see how a Springbok who has travelled one of the more unusual routes to the Green and Gold does.



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