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De Allende has been excellent for Munster this season.
De Allende has been excellent for Munster this season.
Image: James Crombie/INPHO

De Allende enjoying Larkham's decision-making influence on Munster

The 29-year-old Springbok has been in excellent form this season.
Jan 22nd 2021, 6:00 AM 6,040 14

DAMIAN DE ALLENDE hasn’t been home in South Africa since November 2019 when the Springboks returned from Japan with the World Cup trophy.

The scenes of joyous celebration as thousands of supporters flooded the streets everywhere de Allende and his team-mates went seem like they belong in a different world now.

The inside centre headed back to Japan soon after for a season with the Panasonic Wild Knights, although that was cut short as Covid-19 struck and de Allende ended up coming straight to Ireland to link up with Munster last May.

The injured RG Snyman recently returned to South Africa for a visit but de Allende has been playing away with Munster, becoming more important with every game. The fact that things are going so well on the pitch has made settling in much easier for de Allende.

He has been able to see one member of his family recently, however, with his mother due to fly back to South Africa today after a visit, while his girlfriend’s mother was also recently in Ireland. 

“Obviously, it’s lovely to see my mum but I think I would have preferred to see her in South Africa with all my family,” said de Allende this week. “It has been tough.

“There’s no point getting upset about it and dwelling over it. I try to talk to my family at home as much as possible.

“Hopefully, they all be able to come visit us soon or hopefully we’ll be able to go visit them soon but, at the moment, I still have a job to do here in Ireland and I will always commit to that first and we’ll get to see each other soon.”

De Allende is also looking forward to getting back together with his Springboks team-mates soon for the first time since the World Cup, even if there is major uncertainty over the Lions tour scheduled for this summer.

south-africas-damian-de-allende-is-tackled-by-englands-owen-farrell The Springboks haven't played since the World Cup final.

That still seems like a long way off and de Allende is instead focusing on what he can control in the short-term, which means delivering a big performance in tomorrow’s meeting with Leinster at Thomond Park.

The 29-year-old was part of Munster’s two most recent defeats to Leinster in the delayed run-in to the 2019/20 season, but he is convinced that Johann van Graan’s side are much better equipped to win now.

“I think so, actually I know so,” said de Allende.

“I think the way the older guys have stuck their hands up, the way the younger guys have grown up and taken ownership of their roles and their positions has been quite outstanding.

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“Obviously, we had a few hiccups along the way with injuries and Covid and stuff like that but, even with that, the youngsters still managed to pull off some amazing wins, away from home as well.”

De Allende has enjoyed working with attack specialist Stephen Larkham, who is pushing Munster to progress.

“What I can see he’s bringing to the guys is the freedom of decision-making,” said the Springbok.

“Obviously, every team has a bit of structure and sometimes you have to stick to the structure but within that structure, it’s whatever you see in that moment – just try and play it as naturally as you can.

“We all have a natural talent and we’re all here because of a natural talent, and I think sometimes if there’s too much structure you can get a bit lost and almost play like a robot and not with your natural ability.

“I think it’s keeping it natural within the structure and that’s what he has brought out the most in us.”

damian-de-allende De Allende is enjoying life with Munster. Source: Morgan Treacy/INPHO

De Allende also had praise for head coach van Graan’s guidance of the entire programme in Munster. 

“From working with him at the Springboks, [I know] he understands attack very well because he used to do attack for the Springboks and his all-round general knowledge of the game is very good.

“The pictures he sees, whether that’s on attack or defence or kicking, it’s really awesome.

“He will probably get the most amount of flak if we lose or whatever it is, if things don’t go well.

“But the way he makes us feel comfortable and believe not just in the structure but in each other, I think that’s really cool and really important – not just for the individual but for the whole squad.”

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Murray Kinsella

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