Damian de Allende has identified Reds centre Samu Kerevi as a key dangerman that the Stormers will need to keep under wraps, writes CRAIG LEWIS.
De Allende has gradually been working his way back from injury in recent weeks, and after playing off the bench in the last two games, he will finally make his long-awaited first start of the season on Saturday.
His return to the No 12 jersey is an especially timely one considering Juan de Jongh was ruled out earlier this week with a concussion, and there is no doubt his physicality in the midfield will be benefit the Stormers.
The Reds do boast a formidable midfield combination in Anthony Fainga'a and Kerevi, with the latter having particularly impressed in the Aussie team’s win over the Highlanders recently.
As illustrated by SARugbymag.co.za's Opta-powered stats, Kerevi is ranked second in the competition in terms of carries (89) and fifth for defenders beaten (23), while he has also scored four tries.
‘Obviously he’s a big guy and a good ball player, he’s their main strike runner in the backline,’ De Allende acknowledged at a press conference at Newlands on Thursday. ‘He has a lot to offer with plenty of pace, so we’ve had a good look at what the Reds can produce on attack. It can be quite difficult to read their attacking shape, so we know we have to take care of their main ball-carriers, and then I think we should stand in good stead.’
Although De Allende has only got around 60 minutes of game time under the belt so far this season, he said he felt fit and ready to go.
‘I’ve enjoyed my time back in action, and I’m actually feeling refreshed. My recovery has gone according to plan and now I just can’t wait to start. It’s a new combination between Johnny [Kotze] and I, but he’s a great player with a lot to offer, and I’m looking forward to playing with him again.’
After carefully managing De Allende’s reintegration into the team, Stormers coach Robbie Fleck said he was confident that the Springbok star would have the desired impact.
‘The plan was always for him to start in this game, we discussed it a few weeks ago. He’s worked hard enough in training and it’s the perfect time for him to get back into the starting lineup.’
Photo: Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images