Springbok centre Damian de Allende has opened up on the fire-pit accident which nearly cost him his chance of facing the British & Irish Lions, saying he is lucky to be able to play rugby again.
De Allende along with Munster and Springbok teammate RG Snyman suffered severe burns after a fire accident. The pair were rushed to hospital and Snyman is still undergoing treatment. De Allende said he is thankful he was not more seriously impacted.
“I’m just grateful that it didn’t end up being any worse than what it is. Thinking of a guy like RG, I think he got the worst of it. I still feel very sorry for him, he’s going through a lot at the moment.
“I got lucky, I’m glad I get to play rugby again. After it happened I did go into shock and I was in hospital on morphine, so I thought it was a joke at the time, but obviously once it wore off and the pain started to kick in then it really struck me how bad it was, how much worse it could have been and how lucky I was.”
Aside from the accident, De Allende says he is settling in to life in Ireland and has greatly enjoyed his time at Munster. He feels that playing regularly against his British & Irish Lions opposites may give him and the Springboks an advantage.
“There are a lot of different competitions in Europe and I know a lot of the guys who play in the British & Irish Lions. So, it’s been good for me to get a taste against them and see what the rugby is like in Europe.
“I’ve enjoyed it, obviously the weather is very tough and that was one thing to get used to but, other than that, I love Munster, I love Limerick. It’s a great club and great people as well.
“I’ve learnt a lot and I’ve tried to explain to the guys [Springboks] what they [Lions] do differently. It doesn’t mean it will change the way we play rugby. We will still stick to our structures and our strengths.”
After featuring in the mid-week game against the Lions, De Allende also started last Saturday in SA A’s match against the Bulls. He says that although the loss against the Bulls was tough, the players will take lessons away from the game.
“Saturday’s game [against the Bulls] was quite tough emotionally but it was a good lesson for us, not just losing that game but also putting our bodies and our minds through the mental and physical battle.
“I’m glad there were no injuries and we all got through it – but I’m grateful we have a week off before the next game!”
Much discussed ahead of the first Test match has been the Springboks’ preparedness (or lack thereof). De Allende feels that consistency in the squad may overcome any concerns about lack of preparation.
“We haven’t played since the World Cup but our relationships on the field and off the field are still very good. Not just the guys who are playing this weekend, but the guys who are missing out as well. It’s great that there’s consistency in the squad, it makes a massive difference and it allows us to be ourselves.”
The Springboks, in the guise of SA A, put in a Trojan defensive effort against the British & Irish Lions. With defence likely to be critical in the upcoming Test series, De Allende gave some insight into the mentality underpinning the Boks’ defensive efforts.
“I don’t just think it’s us. I think every rugby player is like that. Once the pressure is on and when you’re on the back foot, that’s when you need to stick up your hand, put your body on the line and work as hard as you can. We will always work that hard.”