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World Cup winner De Allende: 'I signed for Munster because I feel they have the credentials'

Munster aren’t using their five-day turnaround as an excuse ahead of the Leinster clash.

SO FAR, so good for Damian de Allende, who has put in two strong performances for Munster in their first two games of the restarted season.

The 28-year-old Springbok centre was signed to help Munster take the next step beyond semi-finals and he gets an early test in that regard this Friday as Johann van Graan’s side face off with Leinster for a place in the Guinness Pro14 final.

World Cup winner de Allende has settled in well alongside Chris Farrell in the Munster midfield but understands that things will move up a notch this week as the peculiarity of this delayed calendar means knock-out rugby is already upon us.

damian-de-allende De Allende has had a good start to life with Munster. Source: Billy Stickland/INPHO

“For me, personally, no matter where I play I always strive to win tournaments and championships,” said de Allende today.

“I signed for Munster because I feel that they have the credentials and the coaching staff and the players and heart. From what I’ve seen on TV, obviously I’ve only played two games here, but I feel they have that team environment that they actually want to achieve.

“You could go to another squad where they have all the stars and the names in their team but it’s like they don’t want that success or they’re not working for that success.

“I feel, even before the two games, there’s a real energy and desire not just to get to a semi-final or final but to actually win semi-finals and finals. And not just once or twice, but consistently in the Pro14 and Champions Cup as well.

“Friday night is going to be a very tough encounter but hopefully we will pitch up. It’s a short turnaround but we know it’s just a mental thing. We haven’t played a lot of rugby over the last six months so there are going to be sore bodies still on Thursday night.

“But if we get the right mindset and we pitch up on Friday night knowing we’ve got one opportunity and forgetting about everything in the past and not worrying about the final, just staying in the moment for 80 minutes, hopefully we can walk off with big smiles on our faces on Friday night.”

De Allende is beginning to get a sense of the rivalry between Munster and Leinster, comparing it to that of his former team, the Stormers, and the Bulls back in South Africa.

The midfield contest of de Allende and Farrell versus Robbie Henshaw and Garry Ringrose was fascinating two weekends ago and promises to be high-quality again on Friday.

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inpho_01717763 Ringrose and Henshaw were excellent against Munster two weekends ago. Source: Billy Stickland/INPHO

“They’re both world-class centres and both have been very good at international level as well,” said de Allende. “Leinster were very good, they put in some nice kicks behind us, they have very nice skills, so we know we can’t get caught at the breakdown.

“Sometimes you are committing too many guys, especially in our defensive line, so we know if we commit too many guys and we’re short on defence, they’ll exploit us very easily and they did so in that first game, so we need to be quite aware of that.

“They’re also very physical and very fast, both have very good feet, so we’ll have to be switched on with all cylinders to try and tame them as much as we can.”

De Allende didn’t finish Sunday’s game against 13-man Connacht as Munster opted to end the game with 14 players, removing him from harm’s way, while key men like Conor Murray and captain Peter O’Mahony were replaced before the final quarter.

The five-day turnaround could be a factor for Munster but they’re not using it as an excuse, according to assistant coach Graham Rowntree.

“We’re in great condition,” said Rowntree today. “There are no fresh injuries. We’re in good nick, we put in a bank of training this summer, mindful of the programme that we’re coming back into.

“We’ve not spoke about the turnaround, we’re ready for another game.

“Having such a long time away from the game, suddenly we’re back into it and we’ve got another big game on Friday night and our performances in certain areas of the game are just getting better and better.

“We’re peaking at the right time, ready for knock-out rugby.”

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Murray Kinsella

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