Boks driven by horror results of the past – De Allende

SPRINGBOK centre Damian de Allende says the squad will be motivated by the nightmare losses of the past on Saturday. | PA

SPRINGBOK centre Damian de Allende says the squad will be motivated by the nightmare losses of the past on Saturday. | PA

Published Jul 11, 2024


SPRINGBOK centre Damian de Allende says the horror results of 2016 and 2017 continue to drive the Springboks to greater heights because many of the players who featured in record losses to New Zealand are still playing.

De Allende felt the pain of two 50-point losses to the All Blacks and a first defeat to Italy, and he says the good times the Boks are currently enjoying keep the players working harder because they don’t want to go back to the nightmare of the Allister Coetzee era.

The 80-cap veteran says the Boks want to continue breaking records and beating Ireland in Durban on Saturday for a 2-0 series win is another biggie they want to bank.

“In 2016 and 2017 we went through a rough patch of losing a lot of games and sometimes by big margins. It was unpleasant,” the 32-year-old said. “The memory sticks of how hard we worked to get to where we are now and what we went through as players. A lot of us who played in that bad time are still here and it drives us.”

This Saturday, De Allende and Kriel will play their 30th Test as a centre partnership and this will nudge them past the record of Jean de Villiers and Jaque Fourie, but De Allende says they will keep the champagne on ice until after the game.

“It is a very cool achievement,” said De Allende. “I met Jesse in 2014 when I first made the Boks. It is a great achievement to go past guys like Jean and Jaque because in their prime they were the two best centres in the world.

“I like the achievement but I am not focused on it — the job has to be done on Saturday and if we win, Jesse and I will have our celebration.”

De Allende was asked what he enjoyed about playing with Kriel, who is in the best form of his life.

“Jesse is a lot faster than me, he can get on his bicycle a bit. But seriously, he is excellent on defence and in reading the game and he makes tough decisions in pressure situations,” said De Allende.

“Jesse’s decision-making on defence at Loftus last week was incredible. He put the Irish players under a lot of pressure, you could see that on the field. He made some brave calls to shut them down and that is why I think they will come up with a different game plan this Saturday.

“It was amazing to play with Jesse in that kind of form.”

De Allende is convinced the Irish have been forced back to the blackboard to come up with a new plan because they couldn’t get their game going in Pretoria (largely because they were tackled backward in the midfield by Kriel and De Allende).”

“They are going to come out firing and they are going to try a few more things,” De Allende said. “They will be more expansive because we stopped them at source in Pretoria. They will throw the ball around a bit because they are desperate to win in South Africa like they did in 2016.

“But we just as desperate for another win. A series win over Ireland will give us a lot of confidence ahead of Portugal next week and the Rugby Championship.”

Early this week, attack coach Tony Brown described De Allende as the best passer of the ball in the Bok squad.

This might come as a surprise to many Bok fans because De Allende is often used as a bulldozer rather than a flamboyant playmaker, but that doesn’t mean he hasn’t got the skills and Brown said he is going to use De Allende differently.

“I am enjoying Tony’s coaching,” De Allende said. “I have always wanted to pass a bit more but I have also known that I have been given a role to suit the team, which is more important.

“The biggest thing about playing centre is knowing when to pass and when to keep the ball,” he explained before adding that playing club rugby in Japan has helped him unlock his creativity. “I have been working on this a lot in Japan where I am asked to move the ball around a lot more.”

Related Topics: