Springbok great lavishes praise on in-form centre De Allende: 'I love Damian'

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Lukhanyo Am and Damian de Allende. (Photo by EJ Langner/Gallo Images)
Lukhanyo Am and Damian de Allende. (Photo by EJ Langner/Gallo Images)

World Cup-winning former Springbok Bryan Habana lavished praise upon centre Damian de Allende for his performances in the green and gold of late.

De Allende is a player prone to criticism for being overly direct at times despite possessing many clubs in his skills bag.

However, since the Boks returned to international rugby after a Covid-enforced 20-month hiatus, De Allende has been one of South Africa’s stand-out players.

READ | How can Springboks unleash true backline potential in 2022?

His centre partnership with Lukhanyo Am has earnt the pair plenty plaudits for their game-breaking ability at both ends of the park.

Although many might feel they've not seen the best they have to offer with the ball, South Africa’s top try-scorer in history (67), Habana, rates De Allende's all-round game hugely.

"He's been playing well for the last three years," Habana said on The Good, The Bad & The Rugby podcast days prior to England stunning the Springboks at Twickenham.

"From a go-forward perspective, Damian is your man to go to.

"He is unbelievable at the breakdown. He causes as much chaos in terms of getting on the ball as Duane Vermeulen, Malcolm Marx and Kwagga Smith.

"As a rugby enthusiast, watch Damian's work at the breakdown. He is constantly fighting, putting in that extra yard on defence and attack, putting the defence and attack under so much more pressure.

"His combination with Lukhanyo Am has been flourishing for the better part of three-and-a-half years, which is brilliant to see.

"He is one of the best passers of the ball. I love Damian. I think he is the calmest, chilled out guy and a brilliant bloke."

Speaking to host Alex Payne and former England internationals Mike Tindall and Dylan Hartley, Habana also commended Bok lock Eben Etzebeth, captain Siya Kolisi and wing Makazole Mapimpi for their performances.

He added that people did not give under-fire fullback Willie le Roux enough credit for what he does in the Springbok team.

"I thought Eben Etzebeth was phenomenal. Siya Kolisi has been playing incredible rugby throughout this year," said Habana after the Boks scored two tries to beat Scotland 30-15 less than a fortnight ago.

"A lot of people potentially don't give Willie le Roux a lot of credit.

"He has maybe been struggling for form but, coming in at first receiver, on turnover ball, to get it wide and then to have Makazole Mapimpi become a South African winger who has scored against every country he has played against [sic]."

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