The Stormers midfielder has played just five Test matches, but will be an integral part of the Bok set-up under the new coach – set to be Allister Coetzee – who will be unveiled on Tuesday morning.
Coetzee even preferred De Allende to Juan de Jongh in the 2014 Super Rugby campaign when Jean de Villiers was fit, so he is sure to claim the No 12 jersey for the three-Test series against Ireland in June.
The 24-year-old Milnerton High product had an outstanding 2015 and voted the South African Super Rugby Player of the Year, and was arguably unlucky not to be given the main award of SA Player of the Year ahead of Lood de Jager, who had an excellent Rugby World Cup, but had missed most of the Super Rugby season through injury.
But after a barnstorming World Cup campaign as well, De Allende spent just four days in Cape Town before joining Kintetsu Liners in Japan with the world at his feet. He was one of the hottest rugby properties around, but he was injured in his fourth game in the Far East in December. The ankle ligament problem was serious enough to keep him on the sidelines for around four months, and it was a blessing in disguise.
“A lot of people said to me ‘Isn’t it sad being injured?’, but I think maybe getting injured at that time maybe helped me a bit in my career, just to get my mind away from rugby and enjoy myself off the field. Just to get away from it for a few months, and I did enjoy my time off. But it’s nice to be back and I am 100 percent focused again,” De Allende said after training in Bellville on Monday.
“I think it would’ve been quite tough to… I think it’s sad that Eben (Etzebeth) also got injured, but it’s also a good thing that he’s off for another two or three weeks before he will start training again. I think if I had come back without a rest, I would’ve struggled a bit. I used my time off quite nicely and I went away quite a bit as well.”
And despite having not played a competitive game before last week’s 35-minute return against the Sunwolves at Newlands, De Allende displayed all those characteristics that helped him force his way into Heyneke Meyer’s Springbok starting line-up.
He went on a few of those mazy runs that stops the defence as they wait to see what the big man is going to do as he keeps the ball in two hands, which is how he invariably gets over the advantage line.
But De Allende has developed his passing game to a great extent over the last 12 months, and where he was once a “crash-baller”, he looks for space and teammates in better positions.
And coming into the new Stormers set-up under Robbie Fleck, where creating and attacking space is the name of the game, De Allende is excited about the possibilities with the Cape side on attack.
It was only the Sunwolves, but they did well to score seven tries in the 46-19 victory at the weekend, and they will look to build on that performance in Saturday’s showdown with the high-riding Lions at Ellis Park.
“Ja, it’s something we are still trying to get better at. I think we are on the right road. It’s nice to come here because you know everyone is trying to get better every day as individuals and a team, and you know no one is coming up short,” De Allende said.
“Credit to the guys as well who have been playing – they have made it easy for me to come back because they have put out good performances and there wasn’t any pressure for me to come back (quicker).”
Fleck said after the Sunwolves game that De Allende will continue to play off the bench to get his fitness back to full throttle.
Original source: Injury helped my career, says De Allende