Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer hailed the performance of Damian de Allende against the World XV on Saturday, writes CRAIG LEWIS.
The inside centre was one of the Springbok standouts at Newlands on Saturday, particularly in the first half when he scored an impressive try, while combining well with midfield partner Jesse Kriel to help create another.
De Allende capped off an outstanding performance with a superb solo try in the final play of the game, running some 80m as he chipped, chased and toed the ball ahead to score his second try.
The talented 23-year-old was the most impressive South African centre for much of the Vodacom Super Rugby season this year, and carried that form over into the opening encounter of the international season.
'There's always that question when guys perform well in Super Rugby and then whether that step up can be made, it's a mental step up that's required as well,' Meyer commented. 'Damian has answered that question, he's developed a lot as a player. He was also in top form last year, and then just before he got his chance, he got injured, which was sad … But he's been the outstanding back in the [Super Rugby] competition this year, and what's great is that he's not just a basher.
'He's tough to bring down, but also has unbelievable touches … What I really like about him is those soft touches that can put players away, and he doesn't just run into contact, he has beautiful feet and can step the defender. He's an all-round player, and he can be a great weapon for us.'
Jean de Villiers made his long-awaited comeback from injury for the final quarter of the clash, replacing Kriel at outside centre, with De Allende playing out the full 80 minutes in the No 12 jersey.
It’s where he could well remain for much of the international season.
'I've always thought that 12 was his best position,' Meyer commented. 'A 12 needs to be a distributor, but also with the way we play, he needs to be a guy who can set up the ball … We need depth there and are looking much brighter at centre now.'
World XV coach Robbie Deans also lavished praise on De Allende.
“Damian’s playing tremendous rugby, he has been all year. He’s just doing the right things, and he definitely adds another dimension to the Boks’ game. Things happen when he’s playing.”
Photo: Ashley Vlotman/Gallo Images