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De Allende ready to shine at 13

14th August 2014 07:33

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Damian de Allende Springboks camp

Keen to pull up his socks: Damian de Allende

If the pressure of making his Test debut for South Africa isn't enough, Stormers centre Damien de Allende will have to do so playing in an unfamiliar position.

Just like his Stormers and Western Province team-mate, Jaco Taute, the broad shouldered back-line player has been thrown in at the deep end as the Springboks look to get their Rugby Championship campaign off to a winning start against Argentina at Loftus Versfeld on Saturday.

Instead of wearing his usual number 12 jersey, he will be in the number 13 jumper come matchday.

As was the case with Taute, De Allende has spent very little time at outside centre, but unlike Taute the 22-year-old Capetonian only became interested in the 15-man game when he was at high school.

De Allende did not follow the traditional Springbok route which gives players who featured in the Craven Week an easier way in.

He was only introduced to the game late in high school as his main interests were football and cricket.

The long suffering Liverpool FC fan admitted on Wednesday that the unfamiliar position does complicate matters, but insisted he is ready to give his all for both team and country.

"It does (make it more challenging playing out of position) and I think with Jean playing on the inside it helps quite a bit, but it is still exciting times and I'm looking forward to it," said De Allende.

"I played 13 last year in the Currie Cup opener against the Bulls. It is a while ago but it is a high level of rugby."

De Allende admitted that he prefers being closer to the action and Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer hinted that he would be used as a first-phase line-breaker and decribed the youngster as a world class talent.

De Allende agreed that his role in the team would not be that much different from what he is used to.

"I would not say it is about by skills set, it is about making the right decision at the right time and identifying the space on the outside and behind the defenders," he explained.

Having missed the chance to make his debut during the June internationals because of injury, he was pleased that he was given another chance.

He said that Meyer is expecting him to front-up in the physical department, but added that nobody is expecting miracles just yet.

Not even the praise Meyer gave him when he announced his team would make any difference on the way he approaches this great day in his career.

"There is obviously a lot of pressure for anyone on their debut, but when I spoke to Heyneke he asked me to go out there and enjoy myself and try to play like I did in Super Rugby," said De Allende.

"There is a lot of pressure, but him saying that (lauding his skills) takes a bit of pressure off me."

For those who have followed his career there will also be a few surprises.

De Allende will be pulling up his socks in direct contradiction to his personal preference at provincial level.

"Since high school I've played with my socks down and I know in certain teams it is tradition to play with your socks up and I'll have to make that adjustment if necessary," he said.

Asked who his role models in rugby were, the relatively new guy in the rugby world said: "I didn't really know rugby that well when I was in high school, but I've looked up to Gio Aplon quite a bit because he isn't the biggest of rugby players, but he is a phenomenal player and has a lot of heart and is very brave."

By Michael Mentz
@Michael_Mentz

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