No dream debut for De Allende

Date published: August 18 2014

When he woke up on the most important day of his rugby career, rain would have been the last thing on Bok centre Damien de Allende's mind.

When he woke up on Saturday ahead of the most important day of his rugby career, rain would have been the last thing on Springbok centre Damien de Allende's mind.

In the build-up to the Rugby Championship Test against Argentina the buzzword in the Bok camp was 'attack' and the Milnerton native would have been eager to prove to his coach and team-mates that he is the man to do just that.

Then, just as he ran out in the green and gold for the first time, the skies opened up and what was supposed to be a thrilling contest, turned out to be a stop-start affair that was unappealing to both fans and players alike.

“I don't think any rugby player likes to play in these conditions, most teams like to run the ball, so it wasn't what we planned for, but we should have adapted better to the conditions,” the debutant said after his team's 13-6 victory in Pretoria.

Conditions resulted in De Allende seeing far less of the ball than he would have liked to, although he did have a significant influence on the game when he stretched out a hand in his in-goal area to prevent the visitors from scoring a try that would have levelled the scores.

De Allende, a man very relieved that his team managed to secure the win in the end, admitted that lady luck had smiled on the Springboks and that the result could easily have gone the other way.

“I was just at the right place at the right time. The bounce of the ball is always a factor and luckily tonight it bounced our way,” he said.

One of his personal highlights on a day was the sheer awesomeness of singing the South African national anthem while it was raining cats and dogs.

“It was quite an exceptional experience to sing the national anthem in the hail,” said the centre.

“I wouldn't say it was the best debut for someone to have, but it was still nice to get the win under the belt.”

Quizzed about his first few weeks as part of the national setup, De Allende noted that the ethos in the group made it easy to fit in.

“It has been awesome and the guys have been awesome as well, they made me feel at home so it was just a matter of me going onto the field and being myself, but unfortunately today conditions weren't good for running rugby,” he noted.

“Hopefully next week we can play to the conditions better.

“This is the worst conditions I've played in in my rugby career , so it was challenging but I learnt a lot from it.”

Like most players who have the privilege to pull the Springbok jersey over their heads, the 22-year-old said that few things compare to that feeling – stating that it is something he could get used to.

“Yes I am hooked,” he replied.

“It is very special to be part of this team and I can only hope that there can be many more test matches for me to come.
As for the thoughts that went through his mind in the change room: “I can't really remember, I would like to tell you but there is a lot of emotions and excitement going through your body at that time, and then running out onto a fairly full Loftus is quite special for your first Test.”

De Allende is likely to retain his place in the run-on team when the Boks take on Argentina at the Padre Ernesto Martearena Stadium in Salta on Saturday and there is no doubt the robust ball carrier will be hoping for less rain and more chances to do what he does best.

By Michael Mentz