Springbok Damien de Allende says that his spell at Munster has been both rewarding and challenging with the toughest thing being missing his family.
De Allende has established himself as a key member of the Munster backline but the pandemic has prevented him from returning to South Africa to visit family.
De Allende gets a visit from his mum
The centre’s mother recently visited him in Limerick which was a boost for him. In a recent interview he conceded that it has been difficult to be away from family but he tries to stay focused on his rugby.
“Obviously, it’s lovely to see my mum but I think I would have preferred to see her in South Africa with all my family,” de Allende told the 42. “It has been tough.
“There’s no point getting upset about it and dwelling over it. I try to talk to my family at home as much as possible.
“Hopefully, they all be able to come visit us soon or hopefully we’ll be able to go visit them soon but, at the moment, I still have a job to do here in Ireland and I will always commit to that first and we’ll get to see each other soon.”
De Allende is relishing the opportunity to learn and grow as a player at Munster and he has praised the input of Wallaby legend Stephen Larkham at the Irish Province.
“What I can see he’s bringing to the guys is the freedom of decision-making,” de Allende added.
“Obviously, every team has a bit of structure and sometimes you have to stick to the structure but within that structure, it’s whatever you see in that moment – just try and play it as naturally as you can.
“We all have a natural talent and we’re all here because of a natural talent, and I think sometimes if there’s too much structure you can get a bit lost and almost play like a robot and not with your natural ability.
“I think it’s keeping it natural within the structure and that’s what he has brought out the most in us.”
A familiar face
Munster has a strongly established South African connection with Rassie Erasmus having coached the team before and former Springbok backroom staff member Johann van Graan currently directing matters at Thomond Park.
De Allende was effusive in his praise for van Graan whom he claims is an expert motivator.
“From working with him at the Springboks, [I know] he understands attack very well because he used to do attack for the Springboks and his all-round general knowledge of the game is very good.
“The pictures he sees, whether that’s on attack or defence or kicking, it’s really awesome.
“He will probably get the most amount of flak if we lose or whatever it is, if things don’t go well.
“But the way he makes us feel comfortable and believe not just in the structure but in each other, I think that’s really cool and really important – not just for the individual but for the whole squad.”
Munster are in action on Saturday 23 January, facing Leinster in the Pro14.