De Allende to dress for success

Damian de Allende (Gallo Images)
Damian de Allende (Gallo Images)

Pretoria - Characteristically they sag around his ankles but centre Damian de Allende says he will pull up his socks when he makes his debut for the Springboks against Argentina at Loftus Versfeld on Saturday.

The 22-year-old Capetonian will complete a meteoric rise in South African rugby a mere seven years after he started playing rugby.

"It's a habit I've had since my school days, but to play for the Springboks is something special. Therefore I'll make sure that my socks are pulled up," he said on Wednesday.

An initial disappointment (knee injury) forced him to withdraw for the June internationals, but he will finally be rewarded for a stellar Super Rugby season.

De Allende said he was overwhelmed when Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer broke the news on Wednesday morning that he would make his debut.

"It (the injury withdrawal) put a bit of a doubt in my head but hard work pays off and I am fortunate enough to get a call up," De Allende said.

"It is my first international, so it is going to be a great challenge I know we've had success against them in the past."

In his breakthrough year in 2012, De Allende first made his name in Western Province's successful Currie Cup campaign before making his Super Rugby debut the following year.

Although De Allende is more adept at playing at inside centre, Meyer expressed his confidence in the strong and physical player.

While he makes his presence felt with his big and tall frame, it is his wide ranging skill-set that makes him such a commodity combined with explosive pace.

De Allende first started out as a wing for Western Province but it was soon realised that his talents were better exploited at centre.

Moving from inside centre to the outside, De Allende said, was a challenge he relished while his midfield partner, Jean de Villiers, would also help to calm the nerves.

"With Jean de Villiers on the inside me helps quite a bit, it is exciting times and I am looking forward to it," he said.

"I wouldn't say it has anything to do with skill-set (playing at 13), it is just about making the right decision at the right time and identifying the space outside and the space behind the defenders."

Speaking of De Allende's selection, Meyer said he was still undecided on the best midfield combination ahead of the Rugby World Cup in England next year.

De Allende said he had been comforted by Meyer's expectations and was confident he would be up for the challenge.

"Heyneke wants a physical presence from me but I guess on the day it is going to be quite exciting. Loftus has quite a fast pitch," he said.

"Anything can happen and playing the situation at that time is probably the right thing to do.

"There is obviously a lot of pressure for a player on their debut. Heyneke said I should just go out there and enjoy myself and try and play the way I played in Super Rugby."

Teams:

South Africa:

15 Willie le Roux, 14 Cornal Hendricks, 13 Damian de Allende, 12 Jean de Villiers (captain), 11 Bryan Habana, 10 Handre Pollard, 9 Ruan Pienaar, 8 Duane Vermeulen, 7 Willem Alberts, 6 Francois Louw, 5 Lood de Jager, 4 Bakkies Botha, 3 Jannie du Plessis, 2 Bismarck du Plessis, 1 Tendai Mtawarira

Substitutes: 16 Adriaan Strauss, 17 Trevor Nyakane, 18 Frans Malherbe, 19 Eben Etzebeth, 20 Marcell Coetzee, 21 Francois Hougaard, 22 Morne Steyn, 23 Jan Serfontein

Argentina:


TBA

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