He’s still learning and he’s always happy to help his team in any position. But, most importantly, Stormers back Damian De Allende is keeping his feet on the ground after his inclusion in the Springbok training squad. De Allende was on Monday named as one of eight uncapped players in Heyneke Meyer’s first Bok training group of 2014 and he told the Stormers website, “Being named in the 36-man squad is a huge honour for me, but I will continue to take things one step at a time as I have done throughout my career until now. I’ve been fortunate to climb every selection step on the WP Rugby ladder, from the Under-19 team to the DHL Stormers team, but I will continue to keep my feet on the ground and work hard to secure my place in the DHL Stormers side and to try my best to contribute towards any further team success here at WP and the Stormers.” The 22-year-old’s rise from Milnerton High School cricketing star to Springbok rugby training squad member – all in the space of less than five years – is an amazing story and one for any aspiring sportsman to take note of.
Having not played Craven Week Rugby at school, where he achieved more as a cricketer, De Allende slowly but surely worked his way up the ranks in the WP Rugby set-up after being called up the Under-19 team in 2010 (when he was still in Matric) – a squad that featured the likes of Scarra Ntubeni, Frans Malherbe, Eben Etzebeth, Siya Kolisi and Nizaam Carr. He spent the next two years in and out of the Western Province Under-21 team before making his Absa Currie Cup debut – on the wing – in August 2012 and finishing that season as his province’s Currie Cup-winning inside centre. “It was always my dream to play for the senior DHL Western Province team, after first getting a taste of it at Under-19 level. The 2012 season and playing in that Currie Cup Final was beyond my wildest dreams, but it gave me the confidence and belief to play at that level,” he said.
He has not looked back since that final in Durban and, now, after 26 Super Rugby appearances for the Stormers (and a total of 24 appearances for Western Province) he could take the next step and represent his country at the highest level. “All I am thinking about right now is about Saturday against the Cheetahs,” said the humble Stormers backline star, who could find himself back on the wing this weekend with skipper Jean De Villiers set to make his return from injury. Of his 26 Super Rugby matches for the Stormers thus far, De Allende has started at inside centre on 13 occasions and played seven games on the wing, making another six appearances from the bench.
When quizzed about his utility value, De Allende said, “Playing on the wing initially allowed me to settle into the team and, actually, I’ve learnt a lot about my game with all the challenges that come with playing in more than one position. I take plenty of inspiration from somebody like Jean De Villiers who, himself, started his senior career here on the wing. I also consider myself very fortunate to be able to learn from someone like him and Juan De Jongh, two top-quality Springbok centres, on a daily basis – both on and off the field,” he concluded.