Damian de Allende has impressed by adding silky passing skills to his stock-in-trade hard running, and now seems to be the full package.
CAPE TOWN – OVER the next few weeks, our rugby writers will be debating their Springbok choices from No.15 to 1 for the upcoming series against the British & Irish Lions. Today we focus on No.12, inside centre.
Mike Greenaway’s choice: Damian de Allende
I appreciate there is a clamour to pick Cornal Hendricks given his successful reinvention as a centre at the Bulls after a career on the wing, but followers of the PRO14 will testify to the brilliant form of Damian de Allende for Munster.
The 29-year-old had a very good 2019 World Cup and has taken his game up to a new level after joining the Irish club.
The former Stormer has impressed by adding silky passing skills to his stock-in-trade hard running, and now seems to be the full package. I would have Hendricks in my squad because of his versatility and experience, but De Allende must continue his midfield partnership with Lukhanyo Am.
Ashfak Mohamed’s choice: Damian de Allende
De Allende was outstanding throughout the World Cup, and the dynamic No.12 has been a revelation for Munster in Ireland since. De Allende takes on defences with ball-in-hand, and not only at close quarters.
He is able to get the offload away in the tackle, has a big boot and is a powerful defender. André Esterhuizen was terrific for the Sharks early last year, and has shown he is much more than a “crash-ball” centre at Harlequins in England.
But his discipline has let him down, with two bans for foul play. A forgotten Bok, Jan Serfontein, reminded everyone of his class during the European Challenge Cup final, when he put in a spirited shift on attack and defence for Montpellier.
Wynona Louw’s choice: Damian de Allende
The World Cup-winner has been in superb form for Munster, mixing up bursts of power and explosive brilliance with an eye-catching and dynamic skill set. And man, has it been a good sight!
De Allende has played a massive role for the club with his consistent performances, and it’s certainly one of the best pre-Lions gifts the Boks could have hoped for.
He just got better and better as the season progressed. He has put his athleticism and wide array of skills on full display, and he has given Munster an abundance of try-scoring options – be it his characteristic, combative style and those typical line breaks, or a touch of creativity.
He has been a beast, and he is an absolute must at No.12.
Morgan Bolton’s choice: Damian de Allende
De Allende is smashing his way into the hearts and minds of Munster supporters with consistent performances for the Irish club.
In the opening round of the Rainbow Cup in Europe, the Bok centre was awarded the man-of-the-match award, consigning any argument that he will be undercooked to mere speculation. His experience will be invaluable against the Lions, and if remains in form, then there is no other his equal.
Frans Steyn, meanwhile, remains the perfect impact player and should happily remain on the bench as the multi-talented utility-back covers flyhalf, centre and fullback. Montpellier’s Jan Serforntein should also get a call-up, while I would like to see Burger Odendaal play the Lions in the SA A match in Cape Town.