Bryan Keane/INPHO

Munster will look to impact of 'world-class' centre De Allende in Europe

The Springboks midfielder has settled into life in Limerick very well.

HAVING DAMIAN DE Allende around for the autumn window was a welcome surprise for Munster, with the Springboks’ decision not to take part in the Rugby Championship meaning the centre remained in Limerick.

The South African has been one of the experienced heads among the exciting youngsters who have made their mark for Munster in recent months, with de Allende racking up nine appearances so far as he has settled in well.

But Munster didn’t sign de Allende for rainy days away to the Dragons in the Pro14. They made the big financial commitment because they believe the midfielder can be a difference-maker on the biggest days of their season.

In that sense, Sunday’s Heineken Champions Cup clash with Harlequins at Thomond Park is where Munster will expect de Allende to make his impact truly felt as he is reunited with Chris Farrell in midfield. 

Having started life with Munster so well, all the signs are that de Allende is ready to stand out in his first appearance in the European competition.

“He’s a good lad to have around,” says Munster fullback Mike Haley. “He’s a joker, a very easy, relaxed guy.

“Then he shows on the pitch that he’s world-class in what he brings.

“Damian has come in, raised standards and he has brought his own views and mindsets on how we might change things. Everyone took it on board, it’s great.”

The influence of proven winners like de Allende is important but Haley also underlines how positive it has been for Munster to see younger players taking their chances, applying pressure to more senior figures.

damian-de-allende-with-ryan-wilson De Allende gets stuck into Glasgow's Ryan Wilson. Craig Watson / INPHO Craig Watson / INPHO / INPHO

“It’s a credit to Munster the squad they’ve developed and brought together now,” says Haley. “There’s no real position where you’d say, ‘He’s a dead cert to play’. Everybody is on each others’ heels and hounding each other.”

That applies to the back three as much as anywhere, even if new signing Matt Gallagher has unfortunately had to undergo shoulder surgery and won’t be in the mix for the coming months.

Haley has essentially been an ever-present for Munster in the number 15 shirt since joining from Sale Sharks in 2018 but he has felt pressure from several others for his place.

“The competition has always been there,” says Haley. “When I turned up there was Andrew Conway who was fighting for it, there was Darren Sweetnam who can play fullback as well and has got a run of games together and has been good, Shane Daly has been an unbelievable player for Munster every time he plays.

“You need that depth in the squad. That’s what drives the best teams to be the best and that needs to be on my mind, that if I don’t play well someone’s going to take my spot and that’s what makes you perform at your best.

“It’s very dog-eat-dog and the good thing is that there’s no animosity in the squad. Everyone wants each other to do better because in the end everybody wants Munster to perform, but it’s also having that knowledge in the back of your head that if I don’t perform at the weekend then somebody will.”

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