PRETORIA - The threat of All Blacks star Sonny Bill Williams playing a starring role in Saturday’s Rugby Championship Test against the Springboks at Loftus Versfeld has done little to strike fear into the hosts.
Instead, Bok centre Jesse Kriel says they too have their own weapon in the robust and burly Damian de Allende. De Allende looks set to assume his role in the number 12 jersey and be reunited with Kriel in the midfield after recovering from the injury that kept him out of the win against Australia last weekend.
While De Allende may be found wanting when it comes to offloading, it is his hard running and ability to punch holes in the opposition defence that the Boks will rely on, while his understanding with Kriel on defence has ensured that little goes through them.
“That’s one of his (Williams’) big skills (offloading) and it is something we are aware of,” said Kriel. “But we’ve got a guy like Damian who also brings something to the table. It is different styles and players but we’ll be looking to focus on what we need to do well and not on what they are going to do.
“Damian is a world class player and what he brings to the table is really special. He has a great skill set, great feet and he can take guys on and is really strong in defence. Damian coming back in, I’ve played with him before, we are comfortable on attack and defence with each other, and with Handre (Pollard) on the inside, we’ve played together from 2015. It is nice to have him back”
The Boks go into Saturday’s encounter with loads of confidence, more so with their defence being the star of their performances and victories of late. But Kriel says they will need to be better at Loftus against an All Blacks side baying for blood and redemption.
“It’s going to be a huge Test match and we are going to have to get up for this Test and be better. They are going to be a lot more clinical, they are the number one team in the world so they are going to come here wanting to win”
Loved being back under the lights again! Always a tough game against the @lospumas ✊🏽🏉 congratulations @TjPerenara on your 50th test & @AngusTaavao making your test debut. Special memories brothers ❤️ pic.twitter.com/LAbBTvAzMh