“RG got the worst of it and I still feel really sorry for him,” said the Bok World Cup winner about lock RG Snyman, who was also burnt.
It’s been a tough time of late for Springbok centre Damian de Allende, who has revealed for the first time just how bad the burn injuries were that threatened to keep him out of the Test series against the British and Irish Lions which begins on Saturday.
While with his club Munster last month, De Allende suffered burn injuries in a firepit accident involving petrol, that also injured fellow Springbok RG Snyman, Mike Haley and CJ Stander. Snyman seems to have suffered the worst from the mishap as he is still receiving treatment and is not part of the South African camp yet.
”I’m really grateful it wasn’t worse than it was,” De Allende said. “RG got the worst of it and I still feel really sorry for him; he has gone through a lot. It was a bit of a shock, lying in hospital, on morphine and then when that wore off, the pain struck. And that’s when you realise how bad it was.
“Then it’s been tough playing two games in a week, but it was good to get some game time. It was tough emotionally to lose the second game against the Bulls, but at least our bodies and minds have now been through two tough battles in one week.
“I’m grateful too for this whole week to prepare for the first Test.”
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And as much as Lions coach Warren Gatland was raving about all the different selection options his team had for the first Test in Cape Town, De Allende said the home side were delighted to have almost a full deck of World Cup winners to choose from.
“It’s nice to play again with all the guys, we haven’t done that since the World Cup two years ago, and it makes a massive difference,” said the 29-year-old.
“If we had had to make a lot of changes, then it would have been quite tough for us.”
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The same sense of unity and sacrifice for each other that was evident in Japan in 2019 was once again to the fore in the 10 minutes either side of halftime in the SA A game against the Lions, when De Allende and company repelled wave-after-wave of attack with just 13 men on the field. It was all hands on deck in terms of defence and they conceded just the one try.
“If you play at international level then that’s the work ethic and physicality that’s required,” he said. “At the highest level, the pressure is always on, and when you’re on the back foot, you need to stick up your hands, work as hard as you can and put your bodies on the line. A lot of other teams show the same desire, but it was exceptional defence.
“It doesn’t just come naturally, it shows that we really want to work for each other and leave everything out on the field.”