De Villiers on Bok centres: 'I can’t see them playing together'
SPOTLIGHT: South African great Jean de Villiers has picked Damian de Allende and Lukhanyo Am as his starting Springboks centres to take on the British and Irish Lions later this year, saying the combination “has really worked for the Boks”.
The former inside centre, who started in the No.12 shirt against the Lions in the victorious first and second Tests in 2009, joined Christina Mahon, Jamie Roberts and Ryan Wilson on the latest RugbyPass Offload to discuss the upcoming series.
He singled out De Allende as a Springboks player who will play an important role at inside centre having spent the last year playing for Munster.
De Villiers also made the same move to the Irish province during his career, albeit after the 2009 Lions tour, so he will know the advantages that come with playing alongside and against future Test level opponents on a regular basis.
“I don’t see a lot of change in terms of the starting line-up that played in the World Cup Final, to be honest,” said the 109-cap former Springboks midfielder.
“Being a midfielder myself, Damian de Allende, the way he played recently against Leinster and the performance that he put in, [with] his experience now of playing against a lot of the guys that will be in the Lions squad he has got a massive role to play. Handre Pollard probably will be playing next to him at No,10, but he will need to take on a much more senior role so that will be key for us.”
Roberts quizzed the South African on the chances of the recently suspended Harlequins midfielder Andre Esterhuizen starting alongside De Allende after a season in the Premiership where he has been used to devastating effect.
“I don’t see that happening,” De Villiers replied.
“Jamie, if you take the success of yourself and Brian O’Driscoll in ’09, having the bigger player that can get massive momentum like yourself and then a bit more, well actually a lot more, speed and flair in the No.13 channel really worked.
“The combination of Damian de Allende and Lukhanyo Am has really worked for the Boks, so I can’t see them playing [De Allende and Esterhuizen] together, it will be a like-for-like swap. So, if De Allende cannot make it then Esterhuizen definitely comes in because he has been very impressive at Quins.”
By Josh Raisey, @RugbyPass