Can Damian de Allende be the centre of attention for the Springboks during the Lions Tour?
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DURBAN - The bad news regarding the Boks’ Munster burn victims is that RG Snyman is highly unlikely to play against the British & Irish Lions but Damian de Allende is comfortably on track.
Forwards coach Deon Davids disclosed as much at a media briefing yesterday in which he said Snyman had left the camp to undergo surgery on his (burned) knee.
The news that De Allende is on track for the first Test on July 24 is comforting because his presence was missed by the Boks against Georgia last week. Veteran Frans Steyn did not have the best of nights and looked cumbersome at times.
Damian Willemse looked flasher when he came on for Steyn at 12 and coach Jacques Nienaber was impressed.
“It was one of those games for Frans. He made errors and every time he made a mistake he tried to correct it. He did some good things too,” Nienaber said. “Sometimes that’s how it goes.
“Damian was always an option for us at 10, 12 and 15. He is definitely a guy who can fulfill that role. Look at Aphelele Fassi, the skillset that a winger and a fullback must have are very similar.
“Except at fullback you need to be able to direct the play. By playing Fassi at wing, all he has to do is what is expected of him. The same goes for 12.
“If you think back to where Dan Carter started – the All Blacks started him at 12. He didn’t direct the play, the flyhalf did that. The same skills that a guy needs to be a good 10, you also require to be a good 12.
“Damian has that required skillset and everyone saw that against Georgia. He can become a good 10/12/15 option for us; people forget he’s still only 23.”
That sound likes Willemse could well replace Steyn on the bench as the backline utility cover.
With regards to Snyman, Davids said he has only a “small chance” of being fit to play the Lions after it emerged that the burns he suffered in a fireside accident in Ireland were more severe than first thought.
The burns to Snyman’s knee have not healed as quickly as anticipated and a specialist has suggested he undergo a skin transplant.
“At this stage, I think there will be a small chance that RG will be part of the Lions Test series, but he will definitely return for the remaining Test fixtures in the Rugby Championship and endof-year tour,” Davids said, all but eliminating Snyman from the Lions series.
In another concern over the second-row depth, Eben Etzebeth left the field in the Georgia match because of a rib injury, but it will take more than that to keep the enforcer out of the Lions series.
“Eben got a rib injury on Friday. He was assessed and was quite fine this morning,” Davids said.
“The medical team is still assessing him. The head coach will then make a decision on his availability for this weekend. Maybe in a day or two, we will have a final call on him.”