August 5, 2021, 0:18

Damian de Allende: South Africa centre admits he got lucky after firepit explosion

Damian de Allende: South Africa centre admits he got lucky after firepit explosion

Damian de Allende will win his 48th cap for South Africa in Saturday’s first Lions Test

South Africa centre Damian de Allende admits he is lucky to be playing rugby again after a firepit explosion.

De Allende, alongside Springboks team-mate RG Snyman, was hurt last month during an incident described by Munster as a “firepit accident” that also involved Mike Haley and CJ Stander.

The 29-year-old has recovered sufficiently to force his way back into the Springboks team for the opening Test against the British and Irish Lions in Cape Town on Saturday, but accepts the outcome could have been far worse.

“I think RG got the worst of it,” said De Allende.

“He has gone through a lot at the moment, I got lucky and I am just glad it wasn’t worse. I can also say I am just glad I got to play rugby again.

South Africa head coach Jacques Nienaber says captain Siya Kolisi brings a calmness to the squad and his return for the first Lions Test is a major boost

“After it happened I did go into a bit of shock and I was in hospital on morphine and it was tough.

“When it wore off the pain started to kick in and it really struck me how bad it was and how much worse it could have been and how lucky I had been.

“I am very grateful I got through some good game minutes over the last week. It was tough to play two games in a week, I haven’t done that for quite a long time but it was good.”

De Allende featured for South Africa A in the warm-up match against the Lions last week, and is one of 21 of the Rugby World Cup-winning squad from 2019 named in Jacques Nienaber’s 23-man party to face the tourists.

He says that familiarity may help counter their disrupted preparation, with 14 players having tested positive for Covid-19 during the pre-series training camp.

Lions forward Maro Itoje says the squad are looking forward to the physicality of South Africa ahead of the first Test in Cape Town on Saturday, live on Sky Sports

South Africa have played just one Test match against Georgia since the World Cup final but De Allende believes previous shared experience will stand them in good stead.

“Obviously we haven’t played together since the World Cup, but we know our relationships on the field and off the field are still very good,” he said.

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“And not just the guys who are playing this weekend or the guys that are starting on the bench, but the guys that are missing out as well.

“It has been great that there is still a bit of consistency in the squad and I think that makes a massive difference. It almost allows us to be ourselves and fit in naturally again.”


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