Stomers centre Damian de Allende has fought his way back from injury, but it’s the psychological battle for form that he has had to learn to master.
The rough and ready 24-year-old centre faced a challenge of a different kind when he was sidelined by injury for four months.
While there is no question about De Allende’s physical toughness, it’s the psychological aspect of recovering from an injury that posed the biggest test for the talented young player at this early stage of his career.
Stormers strength and conditioning coach Steph du Toit says: “The toughest thing about an injury is the mental capacity it takes to overcome it.
“The time it takes for you get through rehab and to regain your confidence is not an immediate process.
“We have a sports psychologist, Dr Henning Gericke [who worked with the 2007 World Cup-winning Springboks], who does a lot of one-on-one work.”
De Allende injured his ankle while playing rugby for the Kintetsu Liners in Japan, after a superb 2015 season for both the Stormers and the Boks.
Now his form has been off since his return to Super Rugby action off the bench against the Sunwolves in the first week of April.
But he is showing more glimpses of last year’s form with every outing.
Doogz says: “I’m feeling good. “I’ve been working hard on my fitness, but it’s still a struggle to push for the full 80 minutes. But I have a better understanding of Super Rugby than I used to, so I know where and when to add value…”