The Springboks’ loss is Western Province’s gain.
When national coach Allister Coetzee decided to release centre Damian de Allende for Currie Cup duty this weekend, Province coach John Dobson probably couldn’t believe his luck.
With his team in need of five log points against Boland at Newlands tomorrow night (7.10pm), Dobson believes De Allende is just the man to help them book a place in the tournament’s semifinals.
In fact, Dobson has been in awe of the 24-year-old since he returned to Province this week.
The WP coach explains: “He looked amazingly sharp at training.
“I’ve seldom seen a player come onto the training field and being so stand-outish. He’s really looking sharp and he’s very keen to play rugby.
“I think he just wants to play an unpressured game of rugby – where he can enjoy himself and express himself and that’s hopefully the environment he’s found here.”
It can be expected that De Allende might get a free role tomorrow night, allowing him to show off the skills that made him South Africa’s Super Rugby Player of the Year in 2015.
Dobson adds: “Like Bongi [Mbonambi], Damian’s got a point to prove [and] he wants to do it in an expressive way not in a sort of way where he’s trying to prove people wrong.
“Both sessions [on Tuesday] he was incredible, I’ve seldom seen that sort of class injected into a training session like he did.”
Dobson hopes it’s just a matter of time before De Allende wears the Green and Gold.
He explains: “He’s such a popular, well-liked figure, one of the standout guys – everyone wants the best for Damian.
“We know where Damian came from in terms of – he was an uncontracted player on the fringes of the U20 setup waiting for hours for his dad to come and fetch him [at the end of training sessions].
“He’s done so well and he’s such a nice guy… I’ll be thrilled if he goes back up there [the Boks].”
Of what De Allende needs to get back to his best, Dobson says: “I think he needs less pressure at the moment, he’s trying very hard…”