Ross Roche

By Ross Roche

Senior sports writer

Bok midfield record is nice, but there’s a job to do against Ireland, says De Allende

De Allende and Jesse Kriel will set a new centre partnership record on Saturday, in the second Test against Ireland.

Damian de Allende was full of praise for his Springbok centre partner Jesse Kriel with the duo set to become the most capped midfield pairing in Bok history when they run on together in the second Test against Ireland at Kings Park in Durban on Saturday.

De Allende and Kriel will pass the previous mark of 29 caps, set by Bok midfield legends Jean de Villiers and Jaque Fourie, when they combine from the start for the 30th time in their career.

However, while De Allende said it was a nice acknowledgement, his and Kriel’s focus was fully on sealing a series win over the Irish in the game in Durban.

‘Get the job done’

“It’s a great achievement for Jesse and myself. I met Jesse in 2014 when he was training with the Boks already, and I’d like to congratulate him for this achievement,” said De Allende.

“Jean and Jaque were probably the best centres in their time, so it’s great. But personally, we’re not focused on that. We want to go out there and get the job done on the field on Saturday.

“Jesse is a lot faster than me, but jokes aside, he’s excellent on defence, at reading a game, and making good decisions at tough times.

“He put the Irish centres under a lot of pressure last week, and this week will be equally challenging for us in the midfield.”

Win against Ireland

Having broken a three-match losing streak to the Irish, stretching all the way back to 2017, in the first Test at Loftus, De Allende does not believe that they have turned the tide against one of their most fierce rivals of recent times and believes they need to back up that performance with another win.

“Last week’s game was a proper Test match. It was good to be part of the match, and we know how tough they are. We have no doubt they’ll come at us even harder this week, so I don’t think one can say it is a case of us having the monkey off our back,” said De Allende.

New Bok attack coach Tony Brown was extremely complimentary of what he called the most experienced centre partnership in world rugby (featuring a combined 150 caps), earlier this week and praised Kriel’s attacking prowess and De Allende’s offload game in particular.

“I’ve always wanted to pass more, but the most important thing for me has been to do what suits the team. In Japan they asked me to pass more, so at this stage, it’s about getting the balance right,” explained De Allende.

“Tony is very relaxed, and his emphasis is on analysing the space on the field. It’s really been a pleasure working with him.”

For more news your way

Download our app and read this and other great stories on the move. Available for Android and iOS.

For more news your way

Download our app and read this and other great stories on the move. Available for Android and iOS.